Every year according to the MN Department of Public Safety, in Minnesota, distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one in four crashes, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries. OTS estimates these numbers are vastly underreported due to law enforcement’s challenge in determining distraction as a crash factor.”

Because of a statistic like this and Spring coming up quickly the Watonwan County TZD along with St. James High School decided that it is very important to educate students as much as possible about the dangers of distracted driving.

“With spring break, prom, and graduation right around the corner, it is the ideal time to reinforce the importance of safe driving,” said Watonwan County TZD Chair Sam Runge. On March 16, The Watonwan County TZD along with St. James High School Student Leadership will be hosting a distracted driving event for students in grades 10-12. During the event, students will be able to go through a rotation of different stations with the goal of students making good decisions when it comes to driving.

“10th, 11th, and 12th graders will rotate through stations each focusing on a different aspect of driving, including personal impact speaker, distracted driving simulator, drunk driving, drowsy driving, seatbelts, and visit with law enforcement officers. Our goal is that participants use these tools to examine their own driver/passenger habits and make improvements, especially when behind the wheel, to continue our mission toward zero deaths on our roads,” said Runge. Arica Connel who is the advisor for the St. James Student Council said that lessons learned with an event like the one March 16 are important lessons for students and adults to learn, “Distracted driving has become such a problem that many of us don’t even realize how often and easily we are distracted. From beginner to experienced drivers, I think we all need to take a step back and do some self-reflection. Accidents happen in a split second and cannot be undone. There is no phone call or text message that is more important than a life!”

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