Gov. Charlie Baker has filed a new bill which would, among other things, ban all handheld phone use behind the wheel. The proposal is just the newest iteration, the latest of which was in 2017, when a bill passed the State Senate but died in the House over concerns it might lead to racial profiling. Past Boston Police data and a 2014 ACLU report showed that black residents of Boston are disproportionately stopped by police in general.
Earlier today, advocates took their case to the State House, urging lawmakers to act on the ban this session. The rally was sponsored by several groups, including TextLess Live More, an organization founded after the death of Merritt Levitan, an 18-year-old woman who was killed by a distracted driver in Arkansas in 2013.
Jim Braude was joined by Merritt Levitan's sister, Hunter Levitan; Mary Maguire, the director of public and legislative affairs for AAA Northeast; and the president of Safe Roads Alliance, Emily Stein, whose father was killed by a distracted driver in 2011.