You may not know this, but Distracted Driving Awareness Month is April. Here in Minnesota, it’s “perfect” timing as road construction season ramps up with the melting snow. And this year, the legislative session has been hot with distracted driving legislation! It is about damn time for some progress on these bills as I remember several attempts over 6 years ago. In that time, there are more victims’ advocates that have emerged, sadly. One of them is my coworker Tom Goeltz, and you can learn more about his family’s story here.
The rest of this blog post is taken from my LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter feeds today as I attended another Transportation Committee hearing in support of distracted driving legislation. It was the first time I was able to hear my coworker testify, and it was powerful.
The call to action – a day before the hearing
When I find out about a hearing related to the distracted driving bills, I update the letter file I’ve been using to communicate with each committee member via email on behalf of the ASSP Northwest Chapter. There is power in being able to state that we have over 900 safety professionals in MN, WI, ND, and SD that support the legislation. At one committee meeting, the letter was printed for those attending the hearing. I find it is helpful to provide some guidance and sample language for people who want to help and reach out to their representatives. The following is the text from my LinkedIn post.
MN Safety Friends – legislative alert!
My Hays Companies teammate Tom Goeltz has been asked to testify on behalf of House Representative Dettmer’s bill HF104 (increased distracted driving penalties bill) at the House Transportation committee meeting *tomorrow* Tuesday, March 26th from 12:45-2:15PM. This is the companion bill to Senator Osmek’s SF75. If any of you are in support of the bills associated with increased penalties for distracted driving, as I am, I encourage you to attend this committee meeting or email/call the Representatives on the Transportation Committee in support of bill HF104. The committee meeting is in Room 10 in the State Office Building, just West of the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul.
If you’re an ASSP Northwest Chapter member, I am sending a letter on behalf of the chapter to each committee member this morning in support of the bill.
You can read more about the Transportation Committee at this link.
Go direct to the members of this committee here.
The Day Of – Monitoring the News
I opened my phone’s browser to look something up and the top story on my google feed was from the local Fox station and how a Senator’s constituent voiced concerns of decreased sales because he would not be able to make phone calls if the distracted driving bills passed. This made me shake my head, laugh, and then become very mad! I posted on LinkedIn about it, here’s a screenshot of a quote from the article, and text of that post if you don’t want to click away:
After the session
Tom’s testimony was well-received by the Committee, and KARE11 met with him outside the hearing room. The channel posted a great summary video and article of the hearing, so I shared that on LinkedIn to complete the day of awareness. The text of the post is below:
Local news channel KARE11 had a better view of Tom’s testimony today. Their report tonight is a great summary of today’s hearing and the progress of this bill related to tougher penalties for those causing crashes while distracted by phones. A companion bill is moving through the senate and house related to hands-free devices. Both bills are excellent tools for law enforcement officers and help to identify who to pull over and how to better record enforcement data.
I’m committed to providing updates and calls to action on my personal social media accounts as well as the ASSP Northwest Chapter pages. There truly is strength in numbers, and I believe these bills can pass and help make Minnesota roads safer!
Distracted Driving Awareness Month Resources
The National Safety Council has some amazing resources for members and non-members. Start there!