Connect with us

Technology

Minnesota House backs hands-free cellphone rule for driving

Published

on

Assuming the bill becomes law, Minnesota would become one of 18 states plus the District of Columbia that require drivers to use hands-free devices while phoning. (FOTOSEARCH)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota motorists would be required to use hands-free devices when talking on the phone while driving under a bill that passed the state House on Monday night, after sponsors said the measure will cut down on distracted driving and save lives.

The House approved the bill 106-21 with bipartisan support, though a few critics said it doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t include tougher penalties for texting while driving, which is already illegal in Minnesota.

“There’s clear evidence from other states that these types of laws save lives,” Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman said at a news conference earlier in the day. “We’ve heard so many heart-wrenching stories from Minnesotans about family members they’ve lost because people are on their smartphones instead of focusing on the road.”

A similar bill working its way through the Senate exempts the manual use of GPS navigation systems. The House bill would limit GPS use while moving to one-touch, voice-activated apps such as Google Maps. The bill’s chief House sponsor, Rep. Frank Hornstein, said he’s confident the differences will get worked out in conference committee, adding that Gov. Tim Walz has indicated that will sign the bill.

Drivers would not need vehicles with built-in Bluetooth wireless systems, Hornstein said. For older cars, he said, hands-free mounts that comply are available online for as little as $9.

The Department of Public Safety says that at least 27 of Minnesota’s approximately 380 traffic deaths last year were related to distractions of all kinds. Experts testified during committee hearings that cellphone use is the fastest-growing distraction, causing a rising number of deaths and injuries.

Assuming the bill becomes law, Minnesota would become one of 18 states plus the District of Columbia that require drivers to use hands-free devices while phoning. A separate bill to toughen the state’s existing penalties for texting while driving is working its way through the committee process in the Senate. Hornstein said that bill may get heard in the House later.

Hornstein, a Minneapolis Democrat who chairs the House transportation committee, acknowledged that hands-free does not make phoning while driving completely distraction-free. But he said it would be a “major step forward.”

He sponsored a similar hands-free bill last year, but Hortman said Republican leaders who controlled the House back then would not allow a floor vote because it didn’t have enough GOP support. Democrats won control of the House with the November elections and Hortman became speaker in January.

Karin Ilg, of New Prague, recalled to reporters how her husband, Phil Ilg, was killed when he was struck on his bicycle from behind by a 16-year-old driver who was focused more on her phone than on the road. Ilg said she has been cutting up his bike and handing out small pieces — like one that she held up — to every 16-year-old she can “as a reminder not to text and drive. … The time is now for us to get this going and to have this as law.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Technology

Canada’s Lion Electric Co. introduces all-electric Class 8 urban truck

Published

on

The Lion Class 8 vehicle has a range of up to 250 miles on a single charge and boasts “zero emissions” as well as “no noise pollution.” (Photo: Lion)

MARIBEL, Quebec — Canada’s Lion Electric Co. March 11 presented its all-electric Class 8 urban truck, the Lion8, which will be delivered this fall.

The vehicle has a range of up to 250 miles on a single charge and boasts “zero emissions” as well as “no noise pollution.”

Lion also says the truck has an 80 percent energy cost reduction and a 60 percent reduction in operational costs.

Another cost-saving attribute, says the company, is “oil-free operation,” with few moving parts and brakes that last longer because of a regenerative braking system.

It’s also built to withstand Canadian winters and punishing road conditions.

According to Lion, the company has already taken orders for the truck from committed buyers.

Assisting in unveiling the new truck was Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a Kansas City Chiefs football player and Lion “ambassador.”

Lion is a manufacturer of zero emission vehicles, including all-electric school buses, paratransit minibuses and urban transportation and commercial trucks.

It’s first vehicle will be delivered to the Société des Alcools du Quebec later this year.

Continue Reading

Technology

Diesel Laptops launches virtual diesel technician program

Published

on

Clients that utilize this program have full, unlimited access to Diesel Laptops’ certified, in-house diesel technicians who are available via phone and live chat and can both remote access the client’s diagnostic tools, and video stream through the end user’s mobile device. (Courtesy: DIESEL LAPTOPS)

GILBERT, S.C. — Diesel Laptops, a distributor of commercial truck diesel diagnostic software, hardware and services, has launched a Virtual Diesel Technician Program.

This program is a first in the commercial truck and off highway industry and is a real solution to the current diesel technician shortage that exists, according to according to Tyler Robertson, CEO of Diesel Laptops.

Clients that utilize this program have full, unlimited access to Diesel Laptops’ certified, in-house diesel technicians who are available via phone and live chat and can both remote access the client’s diagnostic tools, and video stream through the end user’s mobile device.

The program also grants clients access to the wide array of repair information that Diesel Laptops has created.

This repair information includes VIN decoders, labor time guides, repair information on over 70,000 diagnostic fault codes, wiring diagrams, component locators, torque specifications, parts cross referencing, step-by-step repair information, and much more Robertson said.

These applications are provided through traditional desktop applications, along with websites and mobile applications.

“We all know that it is difficult to find qualified technicians,” Robertson said. “We also know it’s difficult for most shops to acquire the resources they need to properly diagnose and repair commercial trucks. The Virtual Diesel Technician Program gives repair shops access to both live, real world diesel technicians and repair information.”

Diesel Laptops is staffed with certified diesel technicians from a variety of industries, and currently handles more than 50,000 customer repair, software, and diagnostic questions every year, Robertson said.

“These are all documented and organized in the company’s database, allowing Diesel Laptops to build the world’s largest database of solutions for known symptoms and diagnostic codes,” he said.

To learn more about the Virtual Diesel Technician Program, including watching an explainer video, visit

Diesel Laptops, founded in 2014, provides specialized diesel diagnostic equipment for the commercial truck, construction, automobile, agriculture, marine, and off-highway markets. Diesel Laptops is the industry leader in diesel diagnostic tools.

Continue Reading

Technology

Schneider rolls out tablets to improve driver experience, efficiency

Published

on

Since Schneider assigns the driver and not the truck, every Schneider driver has everything needed — from apps to news to delivery information and bonus pay statements — at their fingertips. (Courtesy: SCHNEIDER)

GREEN BAY, Wis.  — Schneider isn’t just one of the largest trucking carriers in North America.

It is a leader in utilizing new technology to improve driver experiences.

Since it became the first company to incorporate two-way satellite communication systems in cabs in 1988, Schneider has been an early adopter of many technology developments.

Most recently, the company began rolling out Samsung Galaxy tablet devices to its drivers to make their lives easier both in and out of the truck, according to Mark Rourke, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Schneider.

Since the tablet is assigned to the driver and not the truck, every Schneider driver has everything he or she needs — from apps to news to delivery information and bonus pay statements — at their fingertips.

“I like that I don’t have to write everything down — like pick up numbers and customer info. It’s all right there for me, so I don’t have to go to a truck stop to do that paperwork,” said Schneider driver Shawn Calloway. “I’ll admit, I was hesitant at first, but it’s been a great portable tool that lets me streamline my work so I can get back on the road.”

Tablets also lay the foundation for future capabilities such as electronic signatures and transfer of documents, Rourke said, adding that as the technology evolves, Schneider is committed to the enhancement of the driver experience and will quickly accommodate additions and changes to the suite of new system tools.

“We have upgraded the in-cab communication system and provided new capabilities outside of the truck for drivers,” Rourke said. “We’ve listened and heard from drivers on how tablets are difference makers in making their lives easier. Putting technology in the palm of a driver’s hand is one of many ways we’re enhancing their experience.”

Testing of tablet-based solutions began in early 2015 with a pilot group of Schneider drivers who trialed the tablets alongside the current in-cab system. The resulting feedback noted their improved experience and elimination of the irritants of the previous processes, namely paperwork.

“It’s like an electronic Swiss army knife,” Rourke said. “All the tools and apps like MyPilot, Weigh My Truck, and Schneider’s Compass are in one easy-to-use place for drivers.”

Drivers are also using the tablets to:

  • Track work
  • Get customer information
  • Complete training without a facility stop
  • Look up bonus info
  • Weather and road conditions
  • Turn-by-turn GPS directions
  • Read news, messages, videos and more

Those interested in learning more about Schneider’s easy-to-use tablets and finding jobs with a company focused on improving the driver experience can visit .

Continue Reading

Trending