We’re all going hands-free together
Aug. 1, 2019
If it feels like your news feed has been stuck on the “All Hands-Free All the Time” channel for the past couple of months, that’s because the new hands-free law goes into effect today, Aug. 1. People and organizations all over Minnesota have been working tirelessly to get the word out, including the media, law enforcement agencies, high schools and universities, community councils, and private businesses, just to name a few.
And there’s a reason everyone is talking about it: Preliminary numbers from 2014 to 2018 show that distracted driving contributes to nearly one in five crashes and an average of 204 life-changing injuries a year. But worse, 45 people die every year on average because someone chose to drive distracted. But it turns out hands-free laws can change that. In 12 of the 15 states that have hands-free driving laws, traffic fatalities have decreased by an average of 15 percent.
We appreciate that so many people and entities have come together to talk about the issue of distracted driving and the importance of using devices hands-free. They understand that every moment we spend not looking at our phones while driving is a moment we can help make the road a safer place to drive, walk, and bike. A few decades ago, drunk driving wasn’t considered that big a deal; now it has become taboo. The hope is to get distracted driving in the same category, and it’s headed there already.
If you’re already on the hands-free bandwagon, thank you for being here. If you aren’t, we’d like to invite you along. Speak up and talk to your friends and family about using voice commands on your phone. Tell your neighbors and coworkers about the cell phone holder that clips to your dashboard so that you won’t be tempted to hold your phone. Mention to your parents or children (or both) that they can get answers to all their questions about the new hands-free law on HandsFreeMN.org. And while you’re at it, tell everyone that the penalty for not being hands-free while driving can be more than $120 for a first offense (including the fine and court fees), which can climb to more than $300 after that (fine and court fees).
And even though the law goes into effect today, our work to ensure our roads are free from distracted drivers will keep going. If we all work together, we can ensure that no one has to get the devastating news that their loved one died because a driver was posting on Snapchat or live-streaming videos. It may take some changes, but it’ll be worth it.