Drive Safely Work Week, October 3-7; Drivers Urged to Concentrate on the Road

Driver Distraction the Leading Factor in Minnesota Crashes

ST PAUL, Minn., Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ — Driver inattention or distraction is the leading behavioral factor in crashes on Minnesota’s roads. To raise awareness of distractions and the need to devote attention to the driving task, the Minnesota Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) is teaming with employers and the Minnesota Wireless Foundation to promote the ninth annual Drive Safely Work Week campaign, October 3-7, 2005.

“Driving is a complex task that requires the attention and concentration of the driver,” said Lisa Kons, coordinator of Minnesota NETS. “Changing a CD, eating, or tending to children in the backseat may seem routine, but they all take attention away from driving.” In addition to physical activities, Kons listed mental distractions, such as demanding conversations and cell phone use, and roadway diversions such as gawker slowdowns, as issues requiring heightened awareness.

Minnesota NETS urges drivers to take steps that will reduce distraction, including:

— Check directions and maps before starting out.
— Allow plenty of time to arrive safely.
— Make sure the windshield is clean; adjust mirrors, radio and other
controls before driving.
— Buckle up.
— Be aware of other roadway users.
— Avoid demanding or emotionally charged conversations with other
passengers.
— Don’t shave, apply make up, eat, or talk on a cell phone behind the
wheel.
— Look, listen, anticipate roadways hazards and react safely.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving behaviors are responsible for 20 to 30 percent of the nearly 3 million crashes that occur in the United States each year. In Minnesota, when all types of crashes are combined, driver inattention or distraction is the behavioral factor cited most frequently by law enforcement, according data collected by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety.

Sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), Drive Safely Work Week is a national campaign designed to help employers emphasize the importance of driving safely both on and off the job. Employers throughout the state, representing thousands of workers, are participating in the Drive Safely Work Week campaign this year. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among workers in Minnesota and nationwide. Last year, 657 people died, on Minnesota’s roads and another 40,073 were injured.

The Minnesota Network of Employers for Traffic Safety is a project of the Minnesota Safety Council and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety.

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