Late last month, reader Joe McLean shared the images at the top of this post and the text below on Facebook:
Link to MPR article in first comment.
Good for law enforcement. Everyone should be excited about this new approach to educate the public on distracted driving laws. Hopefully it will move the needle.
Our son is one year from driver’s education. He is attached to his device. My wife and I are very mindful of the example we set for our children. If only more people were. People like the House Chair of the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance, Rep. Tony Cornish (R) District 23B.
Cornish forwarded bills from his committee that increase penalties for distracted driving. His son is a State Trooper and Rep. Tony Cornish frequently cites his own experience in law enforcement.
However, I find it troubling that Rep. Cornish can’t refrain from posting on Facebook while he is behind the wheel. Three of these images are from his personal FB page.
• On April 17, Rep. Cornish documented himself on a highway overpass handing a homeless man a dollar.
• On April 8, Rep. Cornish posted an image on FB while waiting for a stop light in Rosemont, MN.
• On March 11, Rep. Cornish posted an image on FB while driving to a casino in Hinckley, MN.
Am I alone here or is Rep. Cornish breaking the law he helps to create?
He notes that he'd pitched these images to the media before coming to Bluestem but got little interest. We're posting because we'd wondered about Cornish's posts to Facebook over a year earlier.
In MN House Public Safety Chair absolutely could not have posted Facebook photo while driving, we had examined an earlier case of Cornish facebooking while driving:
Bluestem loves to read State Representative Tony Cornish's Facebook page, with its lively discourse about life and politics. . . .
But the photo from his page that we've screengrabbed and posted above caused us to pause. Not because Cornish (R-Vernon Center) declares that the woman is in need of prayer (isn't eveyone?) or the comments about the bumpersticker, but that the photo was taken while someone--presumably the state representative, a retired lawman who serves as the chairman of the Minnesota House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee--while driving.
We can't say with any certainty that the photo was posted to Facebook while the driver-photographer was still driving. Bluestem believes that he must have waited to post the image and the prayer request after he arrived at his destination.
What's the problem? Minnesota Statute 169.47 states:
For purposes of this section, "electronic message" means a self-contained piece of digital communication that is designed or intended to be transmitted between physical devices. An electronic message includes, but is not limited to, e-mail, a text message, an instant message, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, or other data that uses a commonly recognized electronic communications protocol. An electronic message does not include voice or other data transmitted as a result of making a phone call, or data transmitted automatically by a wireless communications device without direct initiation by a person.
Subd. 2.Prohibition on use.
No person may operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device to compose, read, or send an electronic message, when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic.
This section does not apply if a wireless communications device is used:
(1) solely in a voice-activated or other hands-free mode;
(2) for making a cellular phone call;
(3) for obtaining emergency assistance to (i) report a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious traffic hazard, or (ii) prevent a crime about to be committed;
(4) in the reasonable belief that a person's life or safety is in immediate danger; or
(5) in an authorized emergency vehicle while in the performance of official duties.
Given the different angles in the four photos above (which suggest the device isn't hands-free), it's looking more and more as if the Chair of the Minnesota Public Safety Committee is indeed playing with social media while driving.
He should knock that off--even the appearance of flouting the law.
Photos: Screenshot from Cornish's Facebook page.
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