With an alarming number of Minnesota drivers breaking the hands-free law recently, the Minnesota State Patrol has shared a sobering reminder of the consequences of driving distracted.

Tuesday, July 20 the MN State Patrol took to social media with a reminder of Minnesota's hands-free law and a plea to put the phone down while driving.

"You’ve noticed and so have we," they said on Twitter. "Many drivers are breaking the hands-free cellphone law in Minnesota, putting themselves and other people at risk." The tweet pleads with drivers to "park the phone and drive distraction-free," warning of the consequences even just 8 seconds of inattentive driving can have.

The tweet includes a link to a Youtube video published by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety titled "Eight Seconds: One Fatal Decision." On Feb. 27, 2018, Sam Hicks was driving an 18-wheeler on MN Highway 36 when he looked down at his phone for eight seconds after receiving a text from his girlfriend. Those eight seconds would change his life and end another one forever. He didn't see the vehicle of 54-year old Robert Bursik -- a husband and father of three at the time -- stopped at a red light until it was too late. According to Bursik's wife, it took the fire department "hours" to extract her husband's body from the mangled vehicle. “I do pray people learn from my mistake and avoid distracted driving!” Hicks says in the video, which features Bursik's wife and daughter.

The video serves as a sobering reminder of the life-altering consequences of distracted driving. Minnesota's Hands-Free Law went into effect August 1, 2019. Under the law, Minnesota drivers may not:

  • Hold a phone in the hand while driving
  • Use a phone at any time for video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone

Exceptions include using a phone to obtain emergency assistance. Cell phones can be used by drivers to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone.

For a complete review of the Hands-Free Law, visit the Department of Traffic Safety here.

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