Families of Distracted Driving Victims Express Anger at Legislative Leaders

May 16, 2018 07:44 AM

Family members and close friends of people who have died in crashes caused by distracted drivers sharply criticized legislative leaders at the Minnesota Capitol Tuesday.

"Our loved ones are rolling over in their graves," Vijay Dixit, whose daughter was killed by a distracted driver, said. "They are rolling over in their graves because leaders here in the Legislature have not done what Minnesotans want them to do and that is pass a 'Hands-Free' cellphone driving bill."

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The so-called "Hands-Free" bill would make it illegal for anyone driving in Minnesota to use an electronic device in their cars. It was announced Tuesday the bill would not be given a final vote on the House floor.

RELATED: Author: Hands-Free Bill Will Not Get Vote in House

Another bill authored by Rep. Keith Franke, R-St. Paul Park, would make it a low-level felony for anyone convicted of using an electronic device while driving which caused great bodily harm or death.

Franke's bill was pulled out of the Omnibus Public Safety Bill which means it too would not get a full vote on the House floor.

Danielle Wishard-Tudor said her brother died in a distracted driving incident. She expressed frustration and anger with the Legislature for not voting on either bill this session.

RELATED: Hands-Free Bill Passes Committee, Moves to House Floor for Vote

"This affects every Minnesotan out there," Wishard-Tudor said. "This could be your nephew, niece, brother, sister or spouse who gets killed and we don't wish that on anybody. For legislative leaders to not listen to the voices of the people is just wrong."

The House and Senate have four days left before the end of the session and they could decided to have both bills voted on before the Legislature adjourns and that is what Wishard-Tudor said she would like to see happen.

"There is still time for these bills to get a vote," Wishard-Tudor said.  "I would encourage every Minnesotan to contact their state lawmakers and urge them to do the right thing and vote for these bills."

Gov. Mark Dayton has indicated he would sign the "Hands-Free" bill if it makes it to his desk.

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Jay Kolls

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