ST. PAUL – State Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston, urges drivers to prepare for the Aug. 1 change in state 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. Green said the new law will mark a significant change in the way many individuals use a cell phone while driving.
“While many people may take issue with certain components of this new law, it is our responsibility to come into compliance with it,” Green said. “Distracted driving presents a serious safety hazard and it is up to us to keep our focus on the task at hand when we get behind the wheel. Only time will tell whether this hands-free law will lead to safer roads and bring a reduction in traffic incidents, but we all need to do our part in taking steps to ensure our we are abiding by the new law as it takes effect.”
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 direction systems may still be used, but destination programming must be performed ahead of time, before a driver enters the roadway.
Green urges constituents to visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s website: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/hands-free/Pages/default.aspx if they have any questions on the new law.