On Aug. 1, the Minnesota’s hands-free driving law went into effect, thus banning the use of hand-held devices by drivers. This bill was written to address (and curb) the rise of distracted driving. According to the CDC, distracted driving crashes kill roughly 9 people a day, and injure over 1,000.
There are three kinds of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions take your eyes off the road, manual distractions take your hands off the wheel, and cognitive distractions take your mind off the task of driving. According to a report done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, using your phone while driving combines all three types of distraction, making it particularly dangerous.
This bill addresses the convergence of the three types of distraction, but it cannot prevent everything. Under the new law, it is legal to operate a device using voice commands or single-touch activation – so long as you are not holding the phone. Phone calls can still be a cognitive distraction, as can listening to podcasts and music. But then, so can talking to someone inside the car – an action which requires no device at all.
There will always be distractions available to drivers, and no law will every completely get rid of all of them. Drivers must make a conscious choice to remain focused on driving. Whatever it is, it can wait until you have arrived at your destination. Make responsible choices and stay safe.
For more information on the law and the story behind it, check out HandsFreeMN.org.
CDC on Distracted Driving