As distracted driving continues to cause preventable accidents and fatal crashes, Minnesota has joined many other states in increasing the restrictions of their distracted driving laws to help make the roads safer.
While Minnesota had already outlawed sending texts, emails, or browsing the internet while driving, they’ve extended the law to forbid any action that requires the driver to hold their phone while operating a vehicle. As a “Hands-Free” law, it does allow drivers to make calls, text, use GPS, and listen to music only by voice commands or single-touch activation. In the event of an emergency where the driver needs immediate assistance, the law does allow the driver to hold a phone.
If drivers want to avoid a fine from breaking this new law, they should keep these key points in mind:
- Smart watches are considered an electronic communications device and are under the same restrictions as a mobile phone.
- If you are using your phone as a GPS, have the address entered and routing before starting the car.
- You are allowed to use a single earphone with a microphone for voice commands on your phone. However, using both earphones while driving is illegal.
- The law includes being stopped at a red light as being in operation of the vehicle, so do not use your phone until the car has been turned off.
- If your car has electronic settings that allow you to use voice commands, pair your phone to it and put it out of reach to avoid temptations.
- Clip your phone to the dashboard if you are going to use its single-touch activation like Siri.
As of August 1, 2019, police can pull over any Minnesota driver that appears to be holding their phone. If a driver is caught breaking this new Hands-Free law, the ticket fees begin at $50 and will become more expensive if you continue to get caught breaking the law. Whether caused by distracted driving or not, our autobody experts at Crossroads Collision will help you get back on the road after a vehicle crash.