More than 900 traffic safety advocates came together in St. Cloud Oct. 29-30 at the River’s Edge Convention Center for the annual Toward Zero Deaths Conference.
New York Times reporter and best-selling author Matt Richtel, the author of Confessions of a Phone Addict: Distracted Driving and the Brain was the headline speaker to open the conference on Thursday.
Richtel provided a presentation describing the relationship between our brains and our smartphones and other gadgets. He broke down why they are so alluring to use while driving, even at high speeds and in bad weather.
Richtel also talked about why phones are so compelling to use while driving even though we know the great risk that goes with it. He tried to provide changes and solutions that the people in attendance could use for distracted driving.
Bethany Olson spoke at the conference on Oct. 30. She shared her story about how her children survived a car crash after she made life-saving adjustments to their cart seats at a car clinic just days before the crash.
The conference was attended by law enforcement officers, emergency medical and trauma service providers, engineers, public health officials and educators from around the state.
The goal of the annual conference is to always share best practices, identify ongoing and new traffic challenges and share new approaches to reduce traffic deaths and injuries.
In a survey in 2012, 86 percent of those polled admitted that texting while driving was a bad idea. However, 40 percent of those people also admitted they still did it. The goal of TZD is to try and minimize bad driving habits as much as possible.
Toward Zero Deaths started in 2003. Since that time, the number of traffic deaths has declined 45 percent, from 655 in 2003 to 361 in 2014 - the lowest number of road fatalities in Minnesota since World War II.