How to go hands-free at the wheel

How to go hands-free at the wheel

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - On August 1, Minnesota will become the 19th state to enact laws regarding hands-free use while driving.

Drivers over 18 will be able to make calls, text, listen to music or get directions via their phones, but only by voice commands or single touch activation.

Holding your phone is no longer allowed.

“Part of the trick I think with the previous distracted driving enforcement was that people would maybe have an excuse as to why they were using their phone, which was not illegal for them to do," said Captain Paul Barta of the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department. "So this can create a little bit more of an opportunity for some enhanced enforcement.”

Captain Barta says enforcement will begin as soon as the law takes effect, which means it’s important to prepare your vehicle now.

Best Buy employee Anthony Tejada says there are several affordable ways to do that.

“A lot of times people will come in and just buy the adapter, (which) will just connect to the car.”

Smart adapters start around $40. They’ll charge your phone and connect to services like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

“So that way, if you’re having to pull out your phone to change a song or call someone, you can just say ‘Hey Google call mom’ or ‘call dad’,” he said.

And for those who want to hold phone calls more comfortably, bluetooth one-ear headsets can run as low as 25 dollars.

Hands Free MN reminds drivers that driving with two earbuds in is illegal, but one ear is fine.

Tejada says phone mounts are also becoming popular, but Captain Barta warns that you can’t place a mount just anywhere.

“The issue that I think people could get into is if it’s going to obscure their vision," Barta said. "So if they’ve got that phone mounted in such a way that it’s in the way of their line of sight in the windshield, that’s going to be a problem.”

The Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety reminds drivers that hands-free is not necessarily distraction-free.

The cheapest way to start following the law, is to simply put your phone out of sight and not use it at all.

For more frequently asked questions about Minnesota’s hands-free law, visit the Office of Traffic Safety’s website.

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