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Distracted driving bill clears final House hurdle

After years of efforts, a bill banning drivers from holding cellphones and other wireless communication devices while behind the wheel could soon be on Gov. Tim Walz’s desk.

The House on Tuesday repassed HF50, as amended in conference committee, 107-19. Sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls), the legislation now goes to the Senate for repassage, where Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) is the sponsor.

Minnesota would become the 18th state to require hands-free cellphone use if drivers want to make a call or call up directions at the wheel. It would take effect Aug. 1, 2019.

Walz has said he supports the legislation.

“We know [similar legislation] has had a dramatic impact in other states where it has passed,” Hornstein said on the House Floor. “We will have safer roads because of it.”

The bill includes exceptions for use in case of emergencies and allows drivers to use navigation systems so long as the device is affixed to the vehicle.

Distracted driving caused roughly 20 percent of crashes on Minnesota roadways from 2013 to 2017, according to Department of Public Safety statistics, and killed an average of 53 people in the state each year.


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