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Bill would ban cellphones in Minnesota work zones

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A bill introduced in the state House last month would prohibit drivers from using cellphones in construction or other work zones on Minnesota streets and highways.

Although texting while driving is already against the law, the proposed legislation would outlaw talking on cellphones, both hand-held and hands-free devices, in designated work zones.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, there have been about 26,000 crashes in work zones in the last five years, resulting in more than 4,000 injuries and 41 deaths, KSTP reports.

Although it's a challenge for law enforcement to determine distraction as a crash factor, Minnesota's Office of Traffic Safety estimates distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one in four crashes every year.

An Edina lawmaker says cracking down on distracted driving in work zones could make an impact on the number of accidents.

"12 states have banned cellphones [while driving] entirely," DFL state Rep. Ron Erhardt told KSTP.

In 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a state-by-state ban on the use of cellphones while driving, but Minnesota lawmakers were reluctant to push forward the measure.

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