Minnesota Distracted Driving Laws
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on all cell phone (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on texting for all drivers (Primary Law).
Minnesota’s Texting While Driving Stand
Every state is not on the same page with the new laws regarding driving and texting. There were over 300 people who were said to have died in vehicle road accidents in 2011 and this was the lowest recorded number of road deaths since the 1940s. Minnesota feels that their stricter laws enacted in their state since 2008 have been the factor in the decrease of distracted driver accidents.
Statistics showed that one in four motor vehicle accidents that occurred were the result of a distracted driver. Some police officers are saying that the new text messaging law, made effective in Minnesota in 2008 is a difficult law to enforce. This law was re-examined by legislatures and the law returned with nothing new to add. In Minnesota, if a driver is under the age of 18 years old, and is driving on a learner’s permit or temporary license, they will not use a cell phone for calls or for text messaging while driving. However, no driver in the state of Minnesota will use the internet or text message while driving. School bus drivers are also totally banned from using a cell phone while the bus is in motion on the road in Minnesota. This is also a Federal law.
Out of the 35 states to have enacted texting while driving laws, Minnesota was the third state to adopt, citing that no cell phone call or text message is worth dying for. At that time in 2008, the distracted driving law deemed this a petty misdemeanor. Currently, there is a bill in legislation that would ban the use of cell phones by all drivers in Minnesota, including the use of hands-free adapters. This law would read, “If a person has caused a motor vehicle death by driving carelessly they will have their driver’s license suspended for one year.” On January 31, 2012, the House on Public Safety in Minnesota added that this citation would count as a gross misdemeanor.
The reason why Minnesota was the third state to enact a law of this type was due to its high accident rate of over 55,000 from 2006-2008. During that time over 200 deaths occurred due to some driver’s reckless behavior. The death rate has decreased from that time to about 70 deaths per year but has not decreased enough according to Minnesota lawmakers. Distracted driving accidents still happen in about one out of four incidents, which is why this state is getting stricter on the distracted driving laws.
In 2008, police wrote over 900 citations to distracted drivers. This number had decreased greatly to 390 citations by mid-2010. The state felt that this was a giant step forward, yet they believed there were more approaches that could be done in order to decrease these numbers. Primary laws in Minnesota ban all cell phone usage, handheld or hands-free, by novice drivers, all cell phone use, handheld or hands-free, by bus drivers, and texting by all drivers.