Extra distracted driving enforcement in MN as state marks one year of being hands-free
Minnesota’s hands-free law went into effect August 1st, 2019
MINNESOTA — For a little over a year, Minnesotans have been required by the hands-free law to put down their phones while driving, in the hopes of making roads safer for everyone.
“Unfortunately, a year after the hands-free law went into effect, we’re seeing some drivers who haven’t gotten the message and have not changed their behavior,” says Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety Director Mike Hanson.
Authorities say although most did change their behaviors, some are beginning to slip back into old habits.
That’s why the week of August 1st through the 8th, you’ll see more officers on the roads watching for those who aren’t going hands-free.
“We’ve also had questions about lacking on enforcement because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’m here to tell you we’re not,” says Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Gordon Shank. “We’re committed to traffic safety. We’re committed to making sure that people are doing good driving habits, practicing good driving habits, that they’re putting the cell phones away.”
Since the hands-free law went into effect last August, more than 19,000 Minnesota drivers have been cited for not putting down their phones.
But authorities say the goal is not writing tickets.
“We can’t enforce our way out of this,” says Shank. “This is a team effort.”
For those not doing their part, the minimum fine for breaking the law is $120.
More importantly than fines and court costs, the potential loss of a life is immeasurable.
“I think about the little boy who wears the red bike helmet. The neighbor walking his dog. My sister pulling into her driveway. My mom in her front yard gardening,” says Ravenwood Transport truck driver Tina Peterson.
Shank adds, “I think of myself as a parent. We have enough challenging times when it comes to children, and the potential of losing a child to something completely preventable such as a distracted driver on their cell phone is just not acceptable.”
They say now is the time to park the phone and drive smart.
For full details of Minnesota’s hands-free law, visit the Department of Public Safety website by clicking here.