Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel

One of the biggest responsibilities the average person has is to drive safely and pay attention behind the wheel.

In an age when people are used to instant information and being connected to the world on a continuous basis, too many drivers are not taking this responsibility seriously. The result... distracted driving, and, too often, tragedy.

This community experienced such a tragedy a year and a half ago when Joe Tikalsky was struck and killed by a distracted driver. The driver of the vehicle was doing what so many others are doing: Staying in touch with a family member. She didn’t see Joe until it was too late.

One doesn’t need to look very far to find other, similar incidents in the news. Last week, the Twin Cities media reported on a distracted driving crash that killed a mother in Washington County. There have been other recent reports all across the state. Law enforcement officials are doing what they can to stem the tide. At a press conference in New Prague last week, they said the number of tickets for distracted driving is exploding.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is currently running a two-week enforcement action, through April 23, with additional law enforcement officers from more than 300 agencies looking to issue tickets to distracted drivers.

A hands-free device does help, but doesn’t totally solve the problem of distracted driving. No message or phone call is so important that it can’t wait a few minutes. The Tikalsky family is reminding people how important it is to drive safely, handing out small pouches that can hold a phone in the car, with the message: “Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel!”

It’s a message we must all heed.