ST. PAUL – State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, urges drivers to prepare for an Aug. 1 change in law prohibiting the use of hand-held electronic devices such as cell phones when behind the wheel.
The new law requires drivers to use voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone in order to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and use navigation systems. Urdahl said the new law will mark a significant change in the way many individuals use a cellphone while driving.
“This new law is going to be an adjustment for a lot of people and I hope many drivers already have made the switch in anticipation of this change,” Urdahl said. “There are a number of ways we can come into compliance with the hands-free law and I encourage people to take the time to make sure they have a system in place that works well for them. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to keep our eyes on the road and it will be interesting to see if, over time, this new law cuts down on incidents caused by distracted driving.”
While individuals will no longer be able to physically hold a cell phone while operating a vehicle, drivers also are prohibited from video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.
Exceptions are allowed for individuals to obtain emergency assistance if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.
GPS systems may still be used, but destination programming must be performed ahead of time, before a driver enters the roadway.
Urdahl urges constituents to reach out to his office if they have any questions or concerns regarding the new law or to visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s website: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/hands-free/Pages/default.aspx.