The Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives on Tuesday will take up the bill that would prohibit drivers from using hands-held cellphones and electronics.
Proponents of the measure to be discussed at 10:15 a.m. at the State Office Building have been pushing for the law which would make Minnesota the 17th state with such a law.
This is the fourth year a bill that would prohibit drivers from using hands-held devices has been introduced, but so far none of them have advanced out of committee. This year, the bill's authors, which include 40 representatives from both sides of the aisle, are confident it can get to the full House floor for a vote.
"If we can get this bill to the floor, it will pass," said Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, last month during a rally to kick off the efforts to get the bill passed this year..
The push to get phones and electronics out of the hands of drivers comes as the Minnesota Department of Public Safety reported last week that distracted driving is on the rise. Last year, 7,357 drivers were cited for texting and driving, a 23 percent increase from 2016.
Distracted driving is responsible for one in four crashes on Minnesota roads, according to public safety officials. From 2012 to 2016, it contributed, on average, to 59 deaths and 223 serious injuries annually in the state.
Minnesota joins Idaho and Georgia in considering bills that would outlaw hand-held cellphone use by drivers. But in Utah, a similar measure was tabled as lawmakers there felt there were other forms of distracted driving that are just as dangerous, and that it was difficult to strike a balance between public safety and personal freedom.