Recently, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito introduced a new piece of legislation that would affect when drivers can use their cell phones behind the wheel. The measure is called “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth” and it was inspired by the roughly 15,000 people who suffered serious injuries in Massachusetts traffic accidents during the period between 2012 and 2016. Almost 2,000 people lost their lives, which includes 14 roadside workers.
The proposed law changes a number of statutes based on recommendations from the Strategic Highway Safety Plan and updates a number of laws that were created before different types of mobile technology became widespread. According to Gov. Baker, the bill includes “common sense proposals to substantially reduce distracted driving, stiffen penalties associated with operating under the influence, improve safety requirements for certain trucks and to begin establishing a regulatory framework for new forms of transportation.”
Perhaps the biggest impact for most Massachusetts drivers would be the requirement to use hands-free devices while driving. Sixteen other states currently have a hands-free technology law. This means that drivers are prohibited from touching or holding a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle except to perform a tap, swipe, or activation of the hands-free mode. It would also allow law enforcement officials to stop and cite individuals who are not wearing a seatbelt.