Do you make phone calls during your commute? If so, you are not alone. Many commuters try to make their time in the car as productive as possible. However, it may be helpful to review your habits to make sure you do not violate the new hands-free law that will take effect August 1.
Before the hands-free law, it was already illegal to text, email or browse the internet while driving. Minnesota’s new hands-free law expands upon the state’s existing distracted driving laws by prohibiting holding a phone in your hand while driving.
What you need to know about the hands-free law
The main component of this law is that you must not hold your phone while driving, except when making a call for emergency assistance. You also cannot scroll through your phone, type on your phone, look at videos, look at pictures or video live-stream on your phone. This law also prohibits using apps, unless they are for navigation. Examples of prohibited apps include Snapchat, gaming apps and video calling apps.
If you use your phone for an allowed activity, you must do so with the help of voice commands or single-touch activation. Allowed hands-free activities include making phone calls, texting, listening to music, listening to podcasts and receiving directions.
Distractions go beyond cellphones
Cellphones are an especially common driving distraction, but it is important to remember that distractions include many more activities than just those related to cellphones. Any activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off driving can be a dangerous driving distraction.
Some examples of other driving distractions include:
- Tending to children
- Admiring the scenery
- Picking up dropped items
- Searching for items in the vehicle
- Applying makeup
- Adjusting temperature or music controls
It is important to break distracted driving habits because distracted driving can increase your odds of being involved in a collision. Distracted driving contributed to over 3,000 deaths in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
On August 1, you should expect to keep all cellphone activity hands-free. However, you might also consider the steps you can take above and beyond this legal requirement. By taking steps to avoid all driving distractions, you can help reduce your risk of being involved in a collision during your commute.