With Minnesota’s Hands-Free Law going into effect on August 1, 2019, lawmakers and citizens alike are hoping to see a reduction in car accidents and injuries caused by texting while driving. The hope for many is that significantly reduced cell phone usage on the streets of Rochester will result in less distracted drivers and safer roads.
Recent studies from both private and public organizations underscore just how serious our nation’s texting-while-driving problem has become…
THE HARD FACTS ABOUT TEXTING WHILE DRIVING
A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that 88 percent of drivers surveyed believe distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving, aggressive driving, and driving under the influence of drugs.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 660,000 drivers are using their phones behind the wheel at any given time.
The National Safety Council reports that this cell phone usage results in 1.6 million automobile accidents per year…. and nearly 390,000 injuries occur from texting while driving. Nearly 85 percent of those injuries are severe.
In short, one in four car accidents in the U.S. are caused by texting while driving.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE INJURED BY A DISTRACTED DRIVER
If you’re injured by a distracted driver, we will work with you in pursuing every option available for securing the full measure of compensation. Be aware that “distracted driving” can and does encompass much more than just texting. Applying makeup, eating food, turning around to fish something out of the back seat… all of these behaviors may be considered “distracted driving.” If you are involved in an accident in which you believe the at-fault driver was distracted:
- First and foremost, get the medical care that you need. Your health and safety is your immediate priority.
- Have a police report filed.
- Get contact information of witnesses at the scene of the accident.
- Inform your prosecutor of the injuries sustained before the plea.
- Work with a law firm that will represent your interests!
You may have several avenues of compensation. Because Minnesota is a no-fault auto insurance state, you may be required to seek compensation from your own insurance provider first (Personal Injury Protection – PIP). This type of coverage will not compensate for pain, suffering, or emotional distress. It will, however, cover medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and other costs.
Other compensation may be available in the form of property damages and personal injury damages. If you need help, call +1 (507) 282-3521 today for a free consultation.
UNDERSTAND THE MINNESOTA HANDS-FREE LAW
Not only should you know how to proceed if you’re injured by a distracted driver. We also want you to be a safe and law-abiding driver for your own benefit and the benefit of our community. Be sure to take a few minutes to review the new Minnesota Hands-Free Law, which was signed by Governor Tim Walz on April 12, 2019, and goes into effect on August 1, 2019.
Here are a few key points to understand:
- Under the new law, drivers may only use their cell phones through voice commands or single-touch activation (without holding the phone). Keep in mind, “hands-free” doesn’t necessarily mean “distraction-free.”
- Emergency calls are an exception to the law.
- GPS and navigation systems are exempt from this law.
- Under the new law, you cannot touch your cell phone even when stopped at a red light, as you are still operating the vehicle.
- Voice-to-text is not specifically banned under the new law. However, there is no way for an officer to know if a text was composed and sent via voice command or touch.
- Aside from checking the time, the same restrictions apply to smartwatches. Only one-touch or voice activation is permitted.
- The penalty for violating the Hands-Free Law is a petty misdemeanor. Offenders will pay a $50 fine (plus court fees) for the first violation and a $275 fine (plus court fees) for subsequent violations.