"We're not saying that you cannot speak on the phone, we're saying, if you're going to be driving a vehicle,you can only use a mobile electronic device in hands-free mode and only to make a verbal communication with the verbal telephone function. Not radical stuff," bill sponsor Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) said on the Senate floor.
It's already against the law to use a phone to text while driving, but 2010 law that made it a crime is rarely enforced, something Montigny hopes to rectify with this bill. The new legislation gives police the authority to pull over drivers they spot fiddling with their phones.
If the bill becomes law, put down the phone or reach for your wallet: it'll cost you $100 for a first offense, $250 for the second and $500 for a pop for any more.
During debate, the Senate adopted changes to the bill that exempted police safety workers from the restriction,
House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said previously he wants to know more about the effectiveness of bans, while Gov. Charlie Baker said he wants law enforcement to inform any new safety laws.
“I would certainly be interested in seeing where the conversation on this goes. The technology on this stuff has gotten a lot more sophisticated than it was five years or so ago when it was last discusses here. But I’d be inclined to see where the Legislature moves on the specifics of this before I would take a position," Baker said back in October
The bill was sponsored was co sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton.)
The ban isn't enough for the road warriors at AAA. The country's largest auto club wants motorists to think more about distractions they encounter while driving and limit conversations - even hands-free ones - as much as possible, according to the State House News Service.