Bill would prohibit handheld cell phone use while driving

Recently, Representative David Biele joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in passing legislation to ban drivers from using hand-held electronic devices in vehicles unless they are in hands-free mode.

“Distracted driving is a serious public safety issue on our streets and factors into too many preventable accidents,” said Rep. Biele.  “I’m proud to support this bill which prohibits handheld cell phone use while driving.  This bill makes our streets safer by requiring drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road, instead of on their cell phones.”

The bill defines hands-free devices as those that engage in voice communication with and receiving audio without touching, holding or otherwise manually manipulating the device. Law enforcement officials have the ability to issue warnings to drivers until Dec. 31, 2019 before the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The bill will also:

  • Allow for drivers to use mapping or navigation devices if they are affixed to the windshield or integrated into the vehicle and only involve a tap or a swipe;
  • Exempt use of electronics in the case of an emergency and for first responders if they are using the devices as part of their duties;
  • Penalize drivers with fines $100 for the first offence, $250 for the second offence and $500 for third and subsequent offences; and
  • Create a public awareness campaign informing and educating the dangers of using technological devises while driving and the obligations of drivers under this bill.

The bill will now go to the Senate.