ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Minnesota’s Hands-Free bill goes in effect on Thursday and Mayo Clinic is hoping to get people ready for the new law.
The clinic’s trauma center has a distracted driving simulator, which can give drivers a fresh insight into texting and driving.
Mayo says Texting and driving contributes to about 23 percent of all injury related crashes.
“It can be simple things like rolling through a stop sign, swerving, missing turns, or worse, causing a crash, causing injuries, or even death to someone,” said Todd Emanuel, a Mayo Clinic Registered Nurse.
The distracted driving simulator provides a safe space to explore the risks and dangers of texting while driving.
While testing it out, I managed to commit several traffic violations such as running a stop sign, swerving into oncoming traffic; all while driving at inconsistent speeds. I even had several close calls with vehicles, animals, and people.
The simulator also kept track of the various traffic violations made, a reminder of just how dangerous it can be when your full attention isn’t on the road.
“If you need to respond or check something, the best way is to pull off to the side of the road, pull into a parking lot, stop some place,” said Emanuel. “Just being at a stop sign or red light is still in violation of the law because you are within traffic.”
Passengers can pitch in to help the driver too.
“Passengers can be the person that’s answering that phone,” said Emanuel. “And drivers should then ask their drivers to ‘hey, answer my phone or respond to this text or could you text/call this person.'”
While holding a phone is illegal while driving, a one-touch or voice command device such as Bluetooth is allowed.
“The only exception to the law is a life threatening situation,” said Emanuel. “That’s the only time you’re allowed to actually pick up your phone and call 911.”
If you are interested in learning more about the hands free bill, click here to visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s website.
To try out the simulator for yourself, you can contact the Mayo Clinic Trauma Center by calling 507-284-2511.