It’s time to hang up and drive

Senate DFLers attempted this week to amend the ban on handheld cell phone use for drivers into a non-controversial traffic safety bill in the Senate. The amendment would have prohibited the use of cellphones while driving except if the driver was using a voice activated or hands-free device. According to the Office of Traffic Safety, distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one in four Minnesota crashes.

This legislation is about saving lives and making sure no parent or family member ever receives a phone call about a death of a loved one due to distracted driving. Minnesotans all need to take more responsibility for the safety of ourselves and others when we’re behind the wheel. It’s time to hang up and drive.

If the measure is passed, Minnesota would join 14 other states and the District of Columbia in banning hand-held cellphone use while driving. Minnesota is already one of 46 states to ban texting while driving. Devices that are exclusively for navigational purposes will be exempt from the hands-free ban as are first responders and someone contacting emergency assistance.

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans don’t seem interested in allowing this bill to become law, as the amendment was ruled not germane to the underlying transportation bill.

The bill was heard in the House Ways and Means Committee this week, and passed on a voice vote. The bill will now be considered for debate on the House floor. (SF 837)