Hands-free bill should become law

On Monday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban people from using hand-held cell phones while driving. The bill passed 106-21, a strong indication of the bipartisan support this proposal has.

This ban should become law. It would add to the ban that already exists on texting, e-mailing and web-browsing while driving. All of these are severe distractions that have resulted in deaths and injuries from the accidents caused by distracted drivers.

The bill would allow exceptions for calls made in hands-free mode, for emergency situations and to activate one-touch functions on the devices.

We know this isn’t going to stop all distracted driving — the people putting on make-up, or shaving, or eating, or fiddling with the radio, or lighting a cigarette while they are behind the wheel. But it will ban a very prevalent cause of distraction.

We’ve all seen someone driving along, phone jammed to their ear, engaged in conversation while they drive. We wonder what conversation can be so important that it can’t wait until the driver can pull over, or get to his or her destination?

Before cell phones, this was a distraction that didn’t exist. People drove around, operating only their car. If they had to make a phone call they pulled over to a convenience store or a pay phone.

They didn’t mind waiting then. They shouldn’t mind waiting now.