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State considers ban on all cell phone use while driving

ST. PAUL — State lawmakers have proposed legislation to outlaw all cell phone use while driving unless the device is used in a hands-free or voice-activated manner.

“Hopefully it would make the roadways safer,” Worthington Police Capt. Kevin Flynn said .

While positioned at any street corner in Worthington, Flynn said, he can watch people drive down the road or even sit at a stoplight and check a message or look down at their phone. As it is, these actions are a violation of Minnesota’s distracted driving law. Both statewide and locally, Flynn said distracted driving is “a very serious problem.”

A complete ban of cell phone use while driving was previously proposed in 2017, but it failed to meet the necessary legislative deadlines. Bill opponents cite concern that this policy could negatively impact drivers whose cars don’t have hands-free connections or voice-activation capability.

However, Flynn said there’s a clear solution for owners of lower-tech cars — pull over, or wait until arrival to check messages.

“People just need to put their phones down … and pay attention to what they’re doing,” Flynn said.