BOSTON – Earlier this year, 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. Last week, the House and Senate sent the Governor a final version of the bill, which was signed into law and goes into effect in March 2020.
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 law bans 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 language 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 Department of Transportation has said that while the law goes into effect in March 2020, fines will be delayed for a transition period of time during which the new law will be publicized and warnings may be issued.