MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Aug. 1, hands-free driving will become law.

State officials are calling it one of the biggest changes on Minnesota roads in a decade.

The law means you can only use your cell phone while you’re driving if you aren’t holding it in your hand. The Department of Public Safety now has the challenge of keeping Minnesotans informed on what they can and can’t do in the car.

“On May 25, 2016, I was hit head-on by a distracted driver.”

This is just one of the victim impact stories you’ll hear more of as Minnesota moves closer to hands-free driving.

They’re stories from real victims that were released by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

“We started the day after the governor signed the bill into law,” Mike Hanson, director of the Office of Traffic Safety for DPS said.

DPS is investing over $600,000 into radio and Pandora ads, TV spots, brochures, social media and presentations that will go into 2020 for an unprecedented campaign.

They were busy filming new PSA’s with the State Patrol on Monday.

“We want to touch every Minnesotan so that they know about the law; they know what they can and can’t do before Aug. 1 rolls around,” Hanson said.

You can use voice commands or single-touch activation to make calls, text, listen to music or get directions.

You can’t hold your phone in your hand at any time unless there is an emergency.

“Nobody wants to see a preventable tragedy take place simply because somebody puts their personal need to interact with an electronic device over the safety of others on the road,” Hanson said.

Hanson says based on the effectiveness of hands-free driving in other states, fatalities could decrease by 15%.

“In Minnesota, that translates to 50 lives a year that could be saved just because we all pay attention to what we’re doing behind the wheel, and we don’t interact with that phone,” Hanson said.

There are now 18 states that will be hands-free.

Visit the Department of Public Safety’s website for information on hands-free driving.

Kate Raddatz

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