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Proposed Bill Changes Cell Phone and Driving Laws in Massachusetts

Published in Car Accidents on March 24, 2016

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As further research is done on the effect of cell phone use and driving, more and more legislation is passed to make our roads safer. For example, a new bill in Massachusetts will prohibit drivers from holding cell phones while driving. The proposed legislation would restrict carrying or physically manipulating any device, including a smartphone, tablet, or GPS, while operating a vehicle.

The Bill’s Stipulations

If the bill passes, hands-free tech will still be permitted. For example, drivers could still operate Bluetooth or give voice commands to Siri or a similar in-dash program. Emergency use would also be permitted, allowing drivers to make urgent calls or confirm an officer’s legitimacy when they are pulled over. Insurance companies and organizations like AAA believe the bill allows police to better enforce the state’s current texting ban and reduce the number of car accidents. It is also expected to prevent or curb multitasking, helping drivers stay alert on the road.

The bill still has a long way to go, as it is currently pending approval before state legislature. It will then make its way to the House of Representatives, and finally, await the Governor’s signature. The proposal outlines fines between $100 and $500 for any violations of the new law as well as mandatory distracted driving classes for repeat offenders.

State Precedence

Massachusetts has already taken steps to make our roads safer. Texting while driving was banned in 2010 in an attempt to reduce accidents and keep drivers and passengers safe while traveling. Similar laws also exist in Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, where hand-held cell phone use is prohibited.

Would the Proposed Restrictions Make a Difference?

This may be an effective addition to current state laws, but hands-free talking while driving is still incredibly risky. A few issues associated with using a wireless or voice-activated system in your car include:

  • Increased driver error. This contributed to approximately 90% of car crashes, and it is commonly caused by a distraction.
  • A high risk of collision. Cell phone use (including hands-free) contributed to 26% of all crashes in 2013.
  • Greater opportunities for distraction. Voice commands or voice-texting can be more distracting than traditional text messaging.

Though prohibiting holding a device while driving may be an easier issue to see and reprimand, other unsafe activities, such as Bluetooth use, are largely unregulated, or at least are harder to demonstrate in court. This legislation may be a good start, but people must understand how technology affects their ability to drive and the consequences they may face for any negligent behavior.

Proving Negligence in Distracted Driving Accidents

Though it does not eliminate all forms of distracted driving, there is one clear benefit to this law: proving negligence. As speaking on or texting with a phone would be prohibited, this behavior would be clearly acknowledged in a police report. If someone experiences extensive damage related to such an accident, this documentation could be the key to receiving just compensation.

File a Personal Injury Claim in Massachusetts

Sadly, even looking down at a phone for a second can be distracting. In fact, 3,154 people died in distracted-driving crashes nationwide in 2013. Though this number is decreasing, officials are hard at work to keep everyone safe on the road, and legal teams are focused on ensuring justice is served in these situations.

A serious wreck can permanently change a person’s quality of life. Even in low-speed collisions, you may face extensive hospital bills and property damage. Insurance does not always cover these costs, so you must understand your right to pursue compensation. Contact the our Massachusetts car accident lawyers today for a comprehensive look at your case.

For more information, call our law office at (617)-391-9001. Or if you would prefer to email us, then please visit our contact page.

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