I’m always nervous about driving during the holiday shopping season, skittish about all those folks taking their eyes off the road while talking on the phone or posting pictures of bargain buys. I actually try to stay off the roads during the peak shopping times, guessing that the usual high number of distracted drivers is up significantly more. A pretty good guess, given the 2017 study which revealed that 90 percent of drivers admitted to using their cell phones while driving.

But until very recently, Massachusetts was all alone — at least in New England — when it came to putting legal limits on cell phone use and other kinds of distracted driving. That’s despite the bill passed by the legislature nine years ago banning drivers from using cell phones. But, as was suspected, there was no real way for police officers to enforce it. And I’ll bet most drivers didn’t even know there was a law. But finally, after many attempts and a failed effort several months ago, the legislature — in a near unanimous vote — passed a new distracted driving bill. Gov. Baker signed the new bill, effective the last week of February, noting that a distracted driving crash is not an accident, but “a crash that was avoidable.” The new law requires drivers to use hands-free technology like Bluetooth when making phone calls, following GPS maps, and texting. And the bill also requires police to track the age, gender and race of drivers who are pulled over and issued a ticket — a compromise to address fears of racial profiling. But State Rep. Chyna Tyler voted no on the legislation because of the profiling issues. She took to the House floor to explain that while she supports the hands-free legislation, the best way to confirm racial profiling was to collect data from every stop, not just the ones cited for breaking the hands-free law. Tyler told Boston.com that comprehensive data collection, “would have ensured that we can reach our goal of unbiased policing.”

I’ve consistently backed the stalwart advocates of the hands-free bill like Emily Stein, president of Safe Roads Alliance, who tragically lost her father to a distracted driver. But I still worry. The fines, between $100 to $500, seem not to be a strong enough deterrent. And the new law requires several citations before these frequent offenders get the punishment with the most teeth: automatic car insurance surcharges. Everybody in Taxachusetts knows that really will hurt. Likewise, I’m also concerned the data collected only from distracted driving tickets will not be a clear indication of whether the stop is linked to the driver’s race. Don’t get mad at me for saying it — racial profiling sadly remains a reality for many drivers who are black men and more than a few black women. And I speak from experience.

Several years ago — frankly, after doing yet another story about the dangers of distracted driving — I turned to technology and signed up for a program that banks all my calls while I’m in motion; I can disable it temporarily if I’m a passenger. I’ve not missed anything that couldn’t wait until I was done driving. We drivers have to be intentional about giving our full attention to driving, no matter the tempting distractions. Someone’s life depends on it.