By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In two and a half weeks, the state’s new hands-free driving law goes into effect. The state of Minnesota has allocated $300,000 in an outreach campaign to let people know what the law involves.

But as the Aug. 1 date approaches, there are still a lot of questions.

The State Patrol put chilling videos on their website showing the results of distracted driving, and they’ve distributed information about what’s covered under the law. The basic bottom line is that you won’t be able to hold a cell phone in your hand while driving. The goal is to make Minnesota roads and highways safer.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, in 12 out of 15 states with hands-free laws, traffic fatalities have dropped by 15%. Col. Matt Langer, the Chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“The whole goal of the law is to make our roads safer so a 15% reduction in fatalities in Minnesota would mean perhaps about 30 Minnesotans are alive instead of being killed in our traffic crashes on a yearly basis,” Langer said.

The penalties are significant. While a first-time offense is a $50 ticket, the second and any additional offenses are $275 plus court costs– and state troopers are expected to write a lot of tickets. In the first 11 months of the hands-free law in Georgia, the State Patrol there wrote more than 22,000 tickets with local authorities writing even more.

For more information about the new law, click here.

Esme Murphy

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