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Another attempt to outlaw cellphone use while driving in Minnesota

It's hands-free or nothing the bill says.
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What's happening?

For the fourth year in a row, Minnesota lawmakers will consider whether to approve an outright ban on cellphone use while driving.

The Minnesota House's Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance committee discussed a bill signed by 40 legislators from both parties on Tuesday morning.

Recent attempts to pass such a law haven't made it out of committee, but the Star Tribune reports lawmakers backing it are hopeful of progress this year.

Related:

– Semi-truck driver was using phone seconds before fatal crash.

What does the bill say? 

A companion bill introduced in the Senate would make using your cellphone or other handheld devices to take or make calls while you're driving an offense.

Texting/emailing while driving is also included in the bill – this is already a petty misdemeanor under Minnesota law.

Repeat offenders would be punished with a fine of at least $225.

There would be exceptions to the rule, namely you can still use your cellphone to take alls in hands-free mode and make calls using "one-touch functionality."

It also doesn't apply to devices that are functioning solely as GPS systems.

Why is this needed?

Because Minnesota has a serious distracted driving problem.

The Minnesota DPS issued statistics last week that revealed distracted driving has contributed to an average of 59 deaths and 223 serious injuries on Minnesota roads every year between 2012-2016.

The number of citations meanwhile for texting while driving has increased almost five-fold since 2011.

Distracted driving accounts for one in every four crashes in Minnesota, with cellphone use often cited as the reason for the distraction.

Citations for cellphone use have increased all the while other offenses, including not wearing a seatbelt and speeding, have dropped significantly in recent years.

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