MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota House approved a bill Monday night that would require drivers to use hands-free devices while driving.
What’s often seen as a routine task can be a deadly mistake behind the wheel. Over the last five years, distracted driving has contributed to one in five crashes on Minnesota roads. On Monday, lawmakers took action to stop the distraction. The bill passed 106-21 with bipartisan support.
Lawmakers in the Minnesota House Monday voted to ban drivers from using any handheld cellphones while in traffic. Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia already have “hands-free” laws.
Passing this bill has been three years in the making, and what happened in the House chamber gives the law major momentum.
The people most passionate about the legislation were at the forefront of the fight. Families who’ve lost loved ones to distracted driving led the charge.
Sixty-nine people have been killed by distracted driving in Minnesota, 11 of them in the last year. Families of victims, like broken-hearted father Vijay Dixit, were begging lawmakers to approve the measure.
“It happened to me, it happened to many of my friends, and it happens to you if you don’t take any action,” he said. “I don’t want you to suffer what we have suffered.”
And as Karen Ilg addressed the room at the Capital, she gripped a piece of the bicycle her husband was riding when he was killed, a symbol of the pain she and her fellow advocates want no one else to feel.
The bill will now move to the Minnesota Senate for a vote expected to happen Wednesday. In the three years advocates have pushed this bill, this is the farthest it’s gotten.