ND Safety Council employee shares her story on distracted driving

BISMARCK, N.D. - It's Distracted Driving Awareness Month and North Dakota's Safety Council wants everyone on the road to be aware of their surroundings.

Melanie Johnson was involved in a distracted driving accident on I-94 around this time, two years ago.

Johnson says a semi-truck hauling a john deer combine veered into the lane she and her family were driving in.

"As my husband slammed on the breaks, our minivan was ripped open by the axles of this combine that was being pulled on this flat-bed trailer," said Johnson.

The axle on the combine hit the back of the minivan, opening the right side of the vehicle, right where her family's heads were.

"I closed my eyes, grabbed the handle and told myself, I'm going to die right now and I firmly believed that because I knew that once you hear that impact of the glass and everything, I knew that our whole family was going to die," she added.

She says the driver of the truck told police it was because he was reaching for his drink.

"So it's something very simple, we've all done it 100 times, you take your eyes off the road, for a second and it can impact a whole family," said Johnson.

NDSC provides a defensive driving program in order to prevent accidents like the Johnson's from happening.

"We really make April a focus on the distracted driving element because it is the leading cause of car crashes in the US now," said Don Moseman, master instructor at NDSC.

Moseman says checking your phone at a light is still distracted driving.

Both Johnson and Moseman say it's important have your full attention on the road and cars around you when you are in control of the vehicle.

Moseman says the largest single distraction people deal with are cell phones. He says parents especially shouldn't be on their phone because their children are likely to follow their behavior which will make a difference in the long term.