According to the National Safety Council in all the 15 states that have hands-free laws, traffic violations have exponentially decreased including traffic fatalities by an average of 15 percent.
Minnesota has set itself to raise public awareness on traffic education and increase enforcement actions to provide the drivers with a safer road experience.
“Hands Free” will limit all drivers to using voice commands or single-touch activation navigation apps only while driving, which translates into no texting, no reading or browsing any type of content on your phone and most importantly no holding your device while driving.
The new law will allow the driver to use their cell phone to make voice calls, listen to music and podcasts, get directions (via GPS or navigation apps) or even text as long as all of the above is done via voice commands only (i.e. only applicable to smartphones with voice activation systems such as Apple’s Siri and Android’s Hey Google).
Voice calls are also allowed in case of a built-in or physically integrated audio system in the vehicle that can be found in newer car models.
While using navigation systems, the law dictates that the driver needs to type the address before beginning to drive, if they want to change course while driving, they will be required to use the voice activation to provide the address out loud.
In addition, video calls, games, live-streaming are prohibited at all times. It will be best to avoid all social media apps in general and more specifically, browsing your feed, looking at photos or videos on the apps or your phone are not allowed as well as reading texts, typing, scrolling and using any non-navigation apps.
While stopping in a light or in traffic, it is not allowed to pick up the phone, answer a call or touch the screen.
The only exception can come in life threating situations or in immediate danger. The phone may be hand-held only in case of emergency calls for assistance in life and safety situations.
It is also noteworthy, that teen drivers under the age of 18 with a driver’s permit or provisional driver’s license are not allowed to make or receive voice calls, even with a voice command system.
It is allowed to listen to music and/or podcasts as long as there will be no scrolling or browsing through the playlists and channels and using navigation apps or GPS.
Since we live in a glorious age of technology, some electronic communications device may include smart watches and they are limited to the same restrictions under the law as cellular phones.
Drivers may use their smart watches to check time and answer calls as long as it is operated by voice activation or one-touch. No typing, texting or reading emails are allowed.
The best way to comply with the new law is to be prepared ahead of time. Bluetooth integrated audio systems are allowed and can help if your phone does not have a voice activation feature or you wish to be heard better instead of using your phone’s speaker.
Mobile Installation Service prices may vary depending on the type of technology purchased and the type of vehicle you drive, however, bare in mind, this is not the cheapest option to choose from.
According to Bestrix, a technology expert on cell phones accessories for cars, with the recent increase of states joining the hands-free movement, car mounts became the driver’s new best friend and there are plenty affordable options to choose from such as mounts for cup holders, air vents, dashboards, interiors, windshield and even CD players for a quick and easy installation that will serve your hands-free needs and help you to become a law-abiding citizen.
Other options can be using a single earphone with a built-in microphone (earphones in both ears are illegal in Minnesota), or use an auxiliary cable to connect between your phone and your car’s AUX input and lastly, a Bluetooth earphone that will connect to your phone and allow you that one-touch click to pick up calls.
In case of doubt always remember no hands does not mean no distractions and it is the driver’s responsibility to be alert at all times, not just to avoid accidents but also to avoid hefty fines and the penalties are not light.
The new law states that the first ticket will be as high as $50 plus court fees, while any following violations will take tickets as high as $275 plus court fees. Return offenders might even get their license suspended. The law is hard but it is the law.
Have a safe drive!