Distracted driving is a large concern for people on the roads in Massachusetts and throughout the U.S. Accidents occur every day where a driver has failed to stop at a traffic light or crossed a center line due to paying attention to a mobile device or sending a text.
Massachusetts is now the 16th state to pass a law that bans drivers from holding phones. The law took effect in February, 2020.
Major provisions of the law
According to reporting by WAMC, the law signed into effect by Governor Charlie Baker makes it illegal for drivers to use electronic devices without the aid of hands-free technology. This applies to drivers of vehicles and bicycles and includes cell phones and tablets. In 2010, Massachusetts banned texting and driving but police said this was difficult to enforce; an officer could not always prove the driver was in the process of texting. The new law took several years to pass. Some interest groups expressed concern that the law could encourage racial profiling. The new law requires police to keep records of the gender, race and age of the ticketed person.
An article by Boston University states that the new distracted driving law comes with significant fines. First-time offenders receive a fine of $100; the fine rises to $250 for a second offense and goes to $500 for a third offense. Drivers ticketed more than once for a violation must attend a class on distracted driving. The report referenced a Centers for Disease Control statistic that distracted driving caused nine deaths and 1,000 injuries a day in 2018.