Happy Spring, everyone. The Rice County Sheriff’s Office, along with our public safety partners across the state of Minnesota, are embarking on Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign during the month of April.

You’ve heard law enforcement and emergency medical services talk about this topic for many years. But yet here we are again, trying to reach you before something bad happens.

For years, we have done videos, written press releases, begged and pleaded with our drivers across the state to make driving a priority. But yet we still see many of our crashes happening, and the cause relates to unsafe driving. Distracted driving comes in all shapes and sizes. It could be putting makeup on. It could be texting and driving or talking on your cellphone. It could be eating or drinking. You might be adjusting the radio, looking out the window at a crash or something going on near you. It could be you’re looking back at the kids in the backseat.

We in law enforcement are doing our part to ensure our roadways are safer. Life would be much easier if everyone took our advice and made safe driving a priority. It would be great if we didn’t have to work these saturations and enforcement waves. But our statistics show that most of these crashes are preventable. Just last year, distracted driving contributed to over 2,600 injuries and 29 deaths. When you take your main focus off driving your car or truck, you lose track of your speed and direction. You weave left or right into the other lane or off onto the shoulder. Next thing you know you’re hitting another car or truck, a pedestrian, a utility pole or a tree. Or it could mean over correcting and rolling over in the ditch or median. Life is real. Once you’ve started these hazardous events, you can’t just hit pause or rewind. Once it happens, you can’t take it back. So I ask you, what will your choice be?

Some drivers think that this won’t happen to me. “I’m a great driver. I can multitask.” Others say, “I just have so many things going on so I have to make the most of my time.” Parents, don’t forget that your kids are watching what you do when you’re driving. If they see you on your phone while you’re driving, they are more likely going to mirror what they see. That goes for big brothers, sisters and friends.

Last year, Rice County had 10 fatalities. This was in a year where traffic volumes were down, speeds were on the increase, and people continued to make poor decisions that lead to a tragic ending.

Now friends and families are changed forever. All they have now are the memories of their loved ones.

No more backyard campfires. No more trips up north. No more playing with the kids at the park. Their lives have been altered forever.

Please, lead by example. Buckle up, drive the speed limit, drive with your head up and forward and make driving a priority. Let this summer and future summers be more about making new memories instead of reliving the past memories that are forever linked to a tragedy. Be safe and stay healthy, everyone!

Troy Dunn is the Rice County sheriff.

Recommended for you

Load comments