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Hands-free law helps address distracted driving

Post Date:August 13, 2019 9:00 a.m.

Public safety message from St. Louis Park Police Chief Mike Harcey:
Hands-free law helps address distracted driving

According to the Minnesota Safety Council, distracted driving accounts for one-fourth of all vehicle crashes and one-fifth of all fatalities on the road. We have seen the impact of distracted driving in our community and many tragedies have occurred across the state as a result of distracted driving. To begin to address the issue of distracted driving, the Hands-Free Minnesota law took effect earlier this month. The new law allows the use of a cell phone as long it is done hands-free.

Drivers can use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone. GPS and other systems that can only be used for navigation are exempt from the hands-free law. Drivers may not use their phone at any time for video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.

It’s important to remember that at no time may a driver hold the phone in their hand unless it’s to obtain emergency assistance, if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.

While the new law is an important first step towards safer roads for everyone, remember that hands-free doesn’t mean risk-free. In order to stay safe, keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on driving.

St. Louis Park Police Department officers will be enforcing the new law and we will continue to encourage everyone to stop all distractions while driving. Offenders may receive a citation. First-time offenders will pay a fine of $50 plus court fees, and every additional offense could result in a $275 fine plus fees. The fines are set by state law, not by the City of St. Louis Park.

Visit handsfreemn.org for more information on the Hands-Free Minnesota law.


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