The human cost of distracted driving: Minnesota construction worker returns to accident scene
EAST BETHEL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Two years ago, a construction worker's life was completely altered in a distracted driving crash. On the eve of a new hands-free state law, her story serves as a reminder for others.
While Laura Berg says she's grateful to be alive, her life will never be the same. "This is the last place that I can remember and I would still love being here working."
Near the intersection of 7th Street and 237th Avenue in East Bethel, former construction flagger Laura Berg struggles with what she’s lost.
"For the longest time I was really mad at her," Berg says.
It was there, two years ago, that a 19-year-old driver looked at a notification on her phone when she struck Berg in the construction zone.
"Because she was on Snapchat!" Berg said. "And it’s like, was that so important for you to be on Snapchat?"
In February, 18 months after the crash, the driver pled guilty to consciously disregarding an unjustifiable risk.
"She only did two weeks in jail and two weeks of house arrest, and we’re still suffering," Berg explains.
Berg, a wife and mother of six, has had countless surgeries, remains in physical therapy, struggles to walk and can no longer drive. She also needs a caregiver.
"My kids, they get to be kids when caregivers come and help, so if it wasn’t for them, they’d be stuck taking care of me," she said.
With the hands-free law in effect this week, Berg reminds us why it was signed in the first place.
"It’s to prevent accidents, and I don’t want anyone going through what I went through."
Berg is living proof: When you reach for that phone, behind the wheel, you not only tempt your own fate but that of everyone else who shares your path.
"Think about others, not just yourself," she said.
Distracted driving contributes to an average of 45 deaths and 204 life-changing injuries every year. Starting Thursday, if you're caught holding your phone while driving, you can expect a $130 ticket and the same rules apply for your smartwatch -- no texting and driving from there either.