A bill banning cell phone use while driving, except in hands-free mode passed out of a House transportation committee today after emotional testimony from family members who have lost loved ones in distracted driving crashes. Danielle Wishard-Tudor’s brother was killed in 2017 by a distracted driver. Through tears, Wishard-Tudor said, “these are vehicular crashes that result in lives lost and families devastated forever all because drivers forgot the most important thing you do when you get behind the wheel of a car is–you just drive.” Alanita Maurer was injured in a crash that killed her father and 10-year-old sister in Sauk Rapids in 2015 and said “the emotional damage it has caused all of my family and friends of the family will last a lifetime and this is a loss I would never wish on my worst enemy. This is something that will never heal and I believe it’s changed the course of my life and others around me.” Maurer added that “my dad never got to see me graduate, he didn’t get to help me move into my first apartment, and he didn’t get to see me start college. He won’t get to walk me down the aisle and he won’t meet his grandkids.” The House bill’s author, Democrat Frank Hornstein of Minneapolis, called distracted driving an “epidemic” on Minnesota roads and said “if we just save one life through passage of this bill, we will have done our jobs, but the data shows we’ll be saving many more than just simply one life.” Hornstein says in recent years there has been an average of 59 deaths and 223 serious injuries each year in Minnesota as a result of distracted driving. A hearing on a companion bill is set for the state Senate Wednesday.