According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, there have been about 26,000 crashes in work zones in the last five years, resulting in more than 4,000 injuries and 41 deaths, KSTP reports.
Although it’s a challenge for law enforcement to determine distraction as a crash factor, Minnesota’s Office of Traffic Safety estimates distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one in four crashes.
An Edina lawmaker says cracking down on distracted driving in work zones could make an impact on the number of accidents.
There is a question of whether the law should go further. I use my cell phone when I drive. Could I live with it being banned or at least hands free being required? I think so. There were many years that I drove around thinking CB radios were the height of automotive communications. So we really could live with having to drive and actually pay attention to the road.
The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that :
The use of cellular telephones in motor vehicles is associated with a quadrupling of the risk of a collision during the brief period of a call. Decisions about regulation of such telephones, however, need to take into account the benefits of the technology and the role of individual responsibility.
And the Cell Phone Safety pointed out:
A University of Utah study implies driving while talking on a cell phone reduces a driver’s response time to the same levels observed in drunk drivers and “old folks.” …. statistics are mounting that suggest distractions from cell phones increase accidents.
Profoundly alarming studies, however, fly in the face of even current cell phone legislation. States that ban use of hand-held phones while driving fail to acknowledge the growing body of evidence that shows, hand-held or hands-free, it’s the act of participation in a conversation that’s paramount in the cell phone safety debate.
The proof seems to support that more phones simply aren’t mixing with driving. It looks like this time the Minnesota legislature is looking in the correct direction. Maybe at minimum, look at incentives to reduce their use.