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July 18, 2019

Hands-free phone law

Protect yourself and others on the road

Lindsey Hanson & Maggie Moechnig

Effective Aug. 1, 2019, Minnesota will become the 16th state to enforce a hands-free phone law while driving. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, traffic fatalities have decreased by 15 percent in 12 of the 15 states with the hands free law. This law will eliminate any dispute regarding having a phone in your hand while driving, now that the law prohibits holding your phone. This will allow officers to take effective action immediately and keep Minnesotans that are on the road safe.

The specifics of the law
This law will entail not using your phone at any time while the vehicle is in motion, including when you are stopped at a stoplight or stop sign, for video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos on your phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone. This law will still allow drivers to use a hand-held phone to obtain emergency assistance, to navigate using a device with GPS, and use a cell phone to make calls, texts, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single- touch activation without holding the phone. ­Also this law enforces the expectation to avoid other distractions such as eating, grooming, and pets and drive with care in compliance with other Minnesota traffic laws.

The penalties
The first violation is a $50 ticket plus court fees and the second and any additional violations are $275 plus court fees.

Ways to go Hands-Free

Store your phone: Before you put the vehicle in motion, place your phone in a stored compartment whether that be your glove box, trunk or back seat so you have no temptations to grab it while you are driving.

Use a single ear phone: Find a single ear phone that has a microphone and allows you to be hands free when using. It is important to remember that using earphones in both ears while driving is illegal in Minnesota.

Use Bluetooth: If applicable, pair your cellular device to your vehicle before you get on the road. This feature can allow you to be hands free while talking on the phone.

Use a clip or holder to mount your phone: Various convenient stores sell affordable clips and holders to mount your phone to the dash. This option allows you to still use navigation and talking on the phone while you are driving.

The Future
With the implementation of this law, it is probable that fatalities from distracted drivers will decrease in Minnesota. It is important that drivers across the nation are educated on the Hands-Free Law and are aware of each detail within the new law so they can contribute to the overall safety of drivers on the road.

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