BOSTON – Last week, State Senator Nick Collins joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to unanimously pass An Act Preventing Distracted Driving, prohibiting the use of handheld mobile devices while driving.

Passage of this bill puts Massachusetts in line with our northeastern neighbors of Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York. Forty-six states currently ban texting while driving and fourteen states ban the use of handheld devices.

This legislation would ban drivers from holding and using a cell phone while driving. Drivers, however, can still make a single tap or swipe to activate or accept a hands-free call or to use a navigation device. The bill also makes exceptions for phone calls in emergency purposes, such as situations where the safety of the driver, passenger or a pedestrian is at risk or first responder intervention is necessary.

“This piece of legislation will save lives and protect everyone who uses our roads and sidewalks,” said State Senator Nick Collins. “Many accidents involving phones and other handheld distractions are avoidable, and this bill reinforces our shared commitment to prevent tragedies and reduce risks in our communities.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving accounted for 3,450 deaths in 2016. In 2015, an estimated 400,000 people suffered from injuries because of distraction-affected crashes.

The bill will now be reconciled with a House version before being sent to the Governor for his signature.