St. Paul, Minn. – The Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to approve the hands-free cell phone bill (House File 50) during today’s floor session. Legislators are taking action in response to victims of distracted driving who want to prevent more deaths.
“Distracted driving fatalities are continually on the rise,” said chief sponsor and Transportation Division Chair Frank Hornstein. “Requiring ‘Hands-free’ mode will deliver common sense safety measures to combat these preventable tragedies.”
Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia have hands-free cell phone laws. According to WCCO’s latest Reality Check, crashes and fatalities on the road decrease when states have hands-free cell phone laws on the books.
“Minnesotans deserve to be safe on our roadways,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “There is clear evidence from other states that these types of laws save lives. We’ve heard so many heart-wrenching stories from Minnesotans of family members lost because people are on their smartphones instead of focusing on the road. It’s long past time we got this done.”
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, distracted or inattentive driving was a contributing factor in one in five crashes from 2013-2017, resulting in an average of 53 deaths and 216 serious injuries each year.
“The lives of Minnesotans are more important and worth more than looking at your phone at a text message or a phone call,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “This bill will send a strong signal that drivers should focus on driving — and will make it easier for law enforcement to better enforce our distracted driving laws.”
Current state law bans emailing, texting, and using a web browser while driving. Rep. Hornstein’s bill applies the same enforcement and penalties to drivers who do not use their cell phone in a hands-free mode. There are exceptions for emergencies and one-touch activation functions.