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State Sen. Chuck Wiger wants to ban cell phone chat in cars

Chuck Wiger wants you to hang up and drive.
Chuck Wiger wants you to hang up and drive.

It's already illegal in Minnesota to drive and access the web or text using your smart phone. If state Sen. Chuck Wigel has his druthers, it's going to be against the law to talk on a cell phone and drive, too -- even if you're using a hands-free device.

The Maplewood Democrat introduced legislation Jan. 7 banning cell phone use while driving. If it were to pass, the bill would create the first law of its kind in the country.

It says:

No person may operate a motor vehicle while communicating over, or otherwise operating, a cellular or wireless telephone, whether handheld or hands free, when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic.

The national Governor's Highway Safety Association reports that eight states prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington. But none ban both handheld and hands-free use.

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia ban all cell phone use by novice drivers.

The law would make exceptions when a driver wants to report an accident, a medical emergency, or crime. Emergency vehicle drivers would also be exempt. But the rest of us ought to pull over if we want to talk, he says.

The chances of drivers getting into an accident shoot up 300 percent if they're distracted by things like cell phone use, Wiger says. Still, it's hard to imagine every Minnesotan having to hang up and drive.

Read the bill here. It's been submitted to the Senate Transportation Committee.


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