ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota may soon require drivers to use hands-free cellphones on the road, triple the penalties on people who text and drive, and even treat distracted drivers who cause injury or death the same as drunken drivers.

Leaders of the Senate and House transportation committees have authored hands-free bills and said Thursday that they're optimistic. They plan to hold hearings this month and hope for floor votes as early as next month.

House Transportation Chairman Frank Hornstein says distracted driving is the fastest growing cause of death and injury on Minnesota roads.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Melissa Hortman have said they expect the legislation to pass this session.

Prospects for tougher penalties are less clear, though Senate sponsor David Osmek says he's optimistic, too.

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