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Legal News in Minnesota

Cell Phones & Driving Accidents

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, each year 1 in 4 automobile crashes is due to distracted driving, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries.  Experts estimate the numbers are vastly underestimated and under-reported due to law enforcement’s challenge in determining distraction as a crash factor.

It is illegal for drivers to read, compose, and/or send text messages or e-mails, or access the internet on a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or part of traffic, including stopped in traffic or at a traffic light.  Minn. Stat. § 169.475

For teen drivers under age 18, it is illegal to use cell phones whether handheld or hands-free, except to call 911 in an emergency.  Minn. Stat. § 171.055, subd. 2(a)(b).  Violation of the statute may result in a fine up to $225.00.

A recent study from AT&T showed nearly 4 in 10 smart phone users tap into social media while driving.  Almost 3 in 10 surf the internet.  Surprisingly, 1 in 10 people video chat.  7 in 10 people engage in smart phone activities while driving.  Among the social platforms, Facebook and Twitter are commonly used.

According to research, smart phone activities people say they use while driving include:  texting (61%), e-mails (33%), surfing the net (28%), Facebook (27%), taking a photo/selfie (17%), Twitter (14%), and Snapchat (11%).

AT&T has launched an “It Can Wait” campaign to bring driver awareness of the dangers of texting while driving.

For more information see the Office of Traffic Safety or contact the attorneys at Farrish Johnson Law Office at 507-625-2525.

This webpage contains general information and not legal advise. It is based on Minnesota law in effect at the time of writing. An attorney at Farrish Johnson Law Office, CHTD can advise you about how the law applies to your specific situation.