Staff Editorial: Hands-free driving bill presents solution

Recently, a bill to restrict phone usage while driving has gained support in the House of Representatives and Senate among both Republicans and Democrats. The Echo Editorial Board sees this as a step in the right direction, towards safer driving for everyone.

According to the Minnesota House of Representatives, the bill looks to limit drivers to using hands-free actions on their phones, thus banning holding a cell phone while driving. Doing so would help police enforce texting while driving laws as the law would give officers the ability to pull a driver over no matter what they were doing on the phone, according to Kare 11

These actions would be punishable by successively increasing fines based on the severity of the actions, according to the Minnesota House of Representatives. Additionally, the Editorial Board supports police in their search to increase enforcement of phone usage laws.

The Echo Editorial Board sees this as a step in the right direction towards safer roads, and we believe it should have been addressed earlier. What the bill requires should be common sense, but we think it’s beneficial to revisit the technicalities and efficiency of the law.

We believe, however, that only allowing hands-free technology may limit who can use their phones while driving. Some may not understand or be able to use the technology, while others may not be able to afford it. Many people rely on their phones to communicate and navigate, and this restriction could impair some people’s ability to access these essential capabilities.

In addition, although these laws are beneficial in keeping all types of drivers safe, the idea that teenage drivers are typically those who text and drive or use their phone while driving is outdated and uninformed. We see the equal enforcement of this bill regardless of age as essential to its success.

The Board also implores students to be aware of the laws they need to follow when they get behind the wheel. It is vital that drivers follow the law — including this bill if passed — even when the police are absent. This bill, as well as all other driving safety legislation, is being considered for a reason and it should be adhered to at all times regardless of whether or not it is passed.

Additionally, we believe students should contact their representatives regarding their opinions often, particularly about regulations that directly affect them, such as this one. The community’s opinions and safety matter most in situations like these and so it is essential that our legislators take into account all perspectives.