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Minnesota considers new law about distracted driving

Around the nation, concerns about distracted driving continue to grow. For some time now, Minnesota has had a law in place that made illegal the handheld use of phones for select uses while driving. These uses include sending, reading and receiving emails or texts as well as going online to use the internet for any purpose. Now, however, the state legislature has been presented with a new bill that would expand the law to also ban handheld use of cell phones for any reason including making phone calls.

If passed, some believe the new law will send a stronger message about the dangers of distracted driving but the financial penalties currently associated with a citation will not change. Data from the Department of Public Safety indicates that law enforcement gave out more such citations in 2016 compared to 2014 by almost double. In 2016, over 360 drivers operating commercial verhicles and close to 3,100 people driving passenger vehicles were cited for distracted driving. From New Year's Day to early February 2017, 15 commercial drivers and 194 passenger vehicle drivers have been cited.

The Minnesota State Police report that 74 people died in more than 85,000 distracted driving accidents statewide between 2011 and 2015 which is part of why some groups are encouraging passage of stronger laws.

Anyone who is involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver may find it helpful to talk with an attorney to learn about how to seek compensation for any injuries or losses that may occur.

Source: Star Tribune, "Distracted-driving bill aims to 'stop the carnage on our roads today'," Janet Moore and Tim Harlow, February 8, 2017

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