|On August 1, several new laws the Legislature approved this past session take effect. Perhaps most notable among these is the new “Hands-Free” law which will prohibit the hand-held use of mobile devices behind the wheel.
Citations for texting while driving climbed 30 percent from 2017 to 2018. In Minnesota, distracted driving plays a role in one out of five crashes, resulting in an average of 45 deaths per year. As many of us increasingly rely on our cell phones to stay connected constantly, it’s important to keep our attention squarely on the road while driving. The new law may mean some changes, including connecting to a Bluetooth device, using a dash clip, turning on “do not disturb” mode while driving, or simply keeping your phone in your purse or pocket and ignoring it.
In addition to being dangerous, after August 1 holding a cell phone while driving could be costly, too. The first ticket will cost $50 plus court fees and subsequent tickets are $275 plus court fees.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety has launched a public awareness campaign, along with a website featuring comprehensive information available here including some Frequently Asked Questions and fact sheets in four different languages. While we’re a week away from this law taking effect, let’s all commit to developing good habits behind the wheel now to not only avoid citations, but to save lives.