ST. PAUL – State Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, urges drivers to prepare for an Aug. 1 change in law prohibiting the use of hand-held electronic devices such as cell phones when behind the wheel.
The new law requires drivers to use voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone in order to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and use navigation systems. McDonald said the new law will mark a significant change in the way many individuals use a cellphone while driving.
“If you come right down to it, it is a shame the law had to be changed to try to get people’s eyes back on the road,” McDonald said. “Driving is a serious responsibility and should be treated as such. But, as electronics have become such prominent fixtures in our lives and the number of distracted-driving incidents has risen, it became clear something had to be done. Those of us who travel Highway 12 know this all too well. I hope local drivers are prepared for the new law and those who haven’t made the necessary adjustments are encouraged to do so right away.”
There are a number of ways we can come into compliance with the hands-free law and I encourage people to take the time to make sure they have a system in place that works well for them. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to keep our eyes on the road and it will be interesting to see if, over time, this new law cuts down on incidents caused by distracted driving.”
While individuals will no longer be able to physically hold a cell phone while operating a vehicle, drivers also are prohibited from video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.
Exceptions are allowed for individuals to obtain emergency assistance if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.
GPS systems may still be used, but destination programming must be performed ahead of time, before a driver enters the roadway.
McDonald urges constituents to reach out to his office if they have any questions or concerns regarding the new law or to visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s website: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/hands-free/Pages/default.aspx.