Legislation requiring hands-free cell phone use while driving pa - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Legislation requiring hands-free cell phone use while driving passes unanimously

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -

A bill that mandates hands-free cell phone use while driving went before the Public Safety and Security Committee and passed unanimously Tuesday morning.

Supporters said what this bill would do is force drivers to just put the phone down and drive.

Transportation and public safety experts, as well as victims who lost loved ones to distracted drivers, were at the State Office Building to provide testimonies and shared their support for the bill.

"The driver stated before she hit send, she hit a yellow blur. That yellow blur was my dad," said Greg Tikalsky.

In October of 2015 Joe Tikalsky was killed by a distracted driver while he was out getting his morning newspaper.

"Until it happened to us, we just thought of distracted driving as a problem. Now we realize it's an epidemic," said Greg

Fixing an epidemic involves both treatment and prevention. That's where this bill comes in.

Families and advocates of safe driving had been working hard, some for years, to try and make sure no one else loses a friend, daughter, son, or grandfather to a distracted driver.

They sat before the committee holding pictures of people they would never see again. Peggy LePage lost a long time friend and colleague to a distracted driver.

"He was rear-ended by a semi-truck at 63 miles per hour when he was stopped at a light. And photos of the cab show that the head of the driver was down for 8 seconds before he struck Rob's car."

Accidents that are a result of distracted driving not only affect family and loved ones. They affect the first responders on the scene as well. 

"This individual was on Facebook at the time, was too busy doing a reply on Facebook. That van was split in half, the father was killed at the scene he was dead right there," said Representative Jim Newberger, a paramedic. "Two of my regular paramedic partners were on that call...to this day they have a very difficult time talking about it."

The bill calls for Minnesotans to use bluetooth or a single earbud if they want to talk on the phone while driving, to ensure safer roads for everyone.

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