A House panel recently advanced legislation that would make it illegal to hold a cellphone while driving in Minnesota. The vote on March 13 came after four years of unsuccessful attempts, according to a report in the Star Tribune.
While the bill has yet to be given a hearing in the Senate, if it ultimately becomes law, Minnesota could become the 17th state along with the District of Colombia to adopt such a measure.
Presently, Minnesota law allows for people to hold a phone in their hands while driving, as long as it is for speaking on the phone.
Texting and driving is already illegal, but authorities say the current law is difficult to enforce as it is challenging for officers to determine whether a driver was texting, viewing a web page, or having a conversation, MPR News reports.
The advancing of the legislation by the house committee comes on the heels of new distracted driving statistics recently released in a State Patrol report. In Minnesota, officers handed out 7,357 texting citations in 2017—up nearly 23% from 2016, reports Fox9.com. Moreover, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety says distracted driving contributes to one in four crashes in Minnesota and contributes to an average of 59 deaths and 223 serious injuries a year.