Minnesota Might Make it Illegal To Even Hold Your Phone While Driving
Recent news from St. Paul is that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support passing a new distracted driving bill here in Minnesota-- once that's way more restrictive than our current law.
Various stories from the capital earlier this week have detailed how two new laws that crack down on distracted driving in Minnesota are making their way through the state House and Senate.
According to this CBS-Minnesota story, the proposed bills-- referred to as the 'hands-free cell phone' bill-- would make it illegal to even hold your phone when you're behind the wheel in Minnesota. That's whether you're talking on your device making a call, sending or reading a text, or even using your GPS device. Simply holding your phone while you're driving would be illegal.
The only legal way you'd be able to use your phone while driving is through a hands-free device. 16 other states already have similar laws in effect, and both DFL and Republican lawmakers support this new bill. Governor Tim Walz says if it gets to his desk, he'll sign it.
Now while I'm all for cracking down on those drivers who text and drive, or check Facebook or Instagram (we've all seen them, right?) while behind the wheel, I'm not 100% sure I support all aspects of this new bill.
Under the proposed law, even talking on the phone-- if you're holding it up to your ear-- would be illegal. But is just talking on the phone any more distracting than if you're talking in-person with another passenger in your car?
And will Minnesota's current distracted driving law, which prohibits texting or reading anything on your phone-- even while you're stopped in traffic, like at a stop light or in a back-up-- also apply to the new law? I'm guessing it will.
So, if this new bill passes, unless your car is equipped with a hands-free phone option, like Apple Car Play or Google Auto (which mine isn't, because it's too old), we'd all better lock our phones in the trunk before we hit the road-- because even picking it up would make you a target for getting pulled over and cited.
Which, come to think of it, is the point of the law-- to get us to put those devices down while we're driving. And, I guess that really isn't such a bad option, after all, is it?