Effective the first of August of 2019, Minnesota drivers are only allowed to use their cell phones in the "hands-free" mode while driving. Drivers may still use the navigational features as long as the device is not being held in their hands. This law is an effort to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents, and motorists who are caught holding their phones will be fined.
The Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, offers those who are interested in learning more about the dangers of inattentive driving an opportunity to try their driving simulator. According to a trauma nurse with the medical facility, in the space of just five seconds of looking away from the road, a car can travel the length of a football field. An estimated 23% of crashes are caused by some form of distracted driving.
Texting and other uses of an electronic devices are not the only forms of distractions that pose a risk to the safety of others. Activities such as eating, changing the radio station or reaching for a dropped object also can lead to a serious crash. Traveling with pets that are not restrained or overly actively children may also lead to a driver taking his or her attention away from the road.
Fifteen states have passed some form of a "hands-free" law that is meant to increase the safety of all travelers. Of those states, 12 have reported an estimated 15% reduction in fatal traffic accidents. Though the new Minnesota law is a step in the right direction for improving the safety of the roads throughout the state, it is likely that serious crashes will continue to happen. Those who are injured in distracted driving accidents, or through other types of negligent behavior, may have a valid case for filing a personal injury lawsuit in an effort to recoup their financial losses.