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New Minnesota law hopes to reduce distracted driving

According to TrueMotion – a company that studies cellphone use – about 15% of a driver’s trip on Minnesota roads is spent talking on the cellphone. And about 60,000 crashes between 2014 and 2018 were a result of distracted driving. Now Minnesota is trying to reduce those numbers.

The hands-free law in Minnesota is official. As of August 1, 2019, holding a phone while driving can lead to a ticket. Lawmakers and police hope to reduce the distracted driving happening on Minnesota roads.

The hands-free law

Texting or emailing while driving was already illegal in Minnesota. But the new law doesn’t allow drivers to hold cellphones at all. Drivers can only use hands-free options to speak on the phone. They can touch the phone once to make a call or change a song. But dialing a phone number, searching for a song or entering GPS coordinates is now illegal while driving.

The first violation of the new law carries a $50 fine. Any violation after the first can mean a fine of $275.

Reducing distracted driving

The goal of the law is to reduce distracted driving in Minnesota. Phones have increasingly become a problem for drivers. As they get more advanced, they give drivers more options for distraction.

As the Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports, distracted driving causes one in every five car accidents. And those accidents cause an average of 204 serious injuries every year, along with 45 deaths.

Joining other states

TrueMotion has also studied the results of hands-free laws in other states. They found the number of crashes goes down when laws forbid holding cellphones. Minnesota joins a number of states trying to reduce injuries and deaths on the road.

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