MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is now against the law in Minnesota to hold your phone behind the wheel, and to go slow in the left lane.
For drivers, the new hands-free law means buying accessories or changing habits. But for too many families this is about much more: 544 people have died from distracted driving over the past 10 years, and their loved ones pushed for this law.
You can use a phone by voice command or single-touch activation, but you can’t hold the phone. There is one exception to the law, you can hold your phone if you’re calling 911 for help.
Press Conference Held Thursday:
Slowpoke Law Takes Effect
The so-called “Slowpoke” law means drivers in the left lane need to move over for faster vehicles, or they could be fined.
This year, state legislators worked with the Minnesota State Patrol to clean up the old slow-moving vehicle law to say motorists need to move over if another driver is behind them.
There is an important caveat to all of this: Nothing in this law or any Minnesota law allows drivers to break the speed limit.
So if a car is going the speed limit, there’s no need to pass them. But, if you’re caught going too slow in the left lane, you could get a ticket for $125.
LRT Law Also Takes Effect
Another law now in effect gives prosecutors the power to charge light rail operators with reckless driving.
This law came about after a train went through a stop signal, slamming into a car, killing Nic Westlake.
Prosecutors didn’t charge the operator in that case, because careless driving laws did not apply to trains.
Westlake’s family made it their mission to change that. The Westlake family is still in a civil lawsuit with Metro Transit.
Metro Transit says the law will not change expectations of operators.
All these laws took effect in Minnesota on August 1.