A North Mankato State Senator is backing two bills that would address cell phone use while driving. The legislation was debated in committee on the same day that state officials released statistics that show a 30 percent increase in texting and driving tickets in 2018 compared to the year before.
Senator Nick Frentz is a member of the Senate Transportation Committee and explained, “It would essentially mean that it is no longer legal in Minnesota to hold your phone and talk or text while driving. It’s already not legal to text but this would mean you must have one-touch built into your dashboard or however you do it. You cannot operate your cell phone while driving.”
“In states that have seen these changes in law they’ve had a 15 percent reduction in automobile accident fatalities due to distracted driving,” he added, “In Minnesota, that would mean approximately 50 lives a year would be saved.”
The bill will next be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A second related piece of legislation would increase the penalties for drivers who use cell phones and cause serious or deadly crashes. “That bill would essentially treat hurting or killing someone on a Minnesota roadway the same as if you hurt or killed someone while drunk driving. So, fairly serious penalties. That bill also passed on unanimous voice vote and is also on its way to judiciary,” said Frentz.