Beacon Hill Democrats can't seem to agree on a bill that would ban the use of electronic devices while driving and are split over what to do with information about who gets pulled over.

Right before their August recess, House and Senate leaders said they had a deal "in principle" to require hands-free mode for drivers and said they had reached a compromise on the bill's thorniest secondary issue: what to do with the racial and ethnic data collected when stops are made that could shed light on whether police racially profile drivers.

The Senate Democrats involved in final negotiations walked away from a House proposal that would keep much of the traffic stop data, race and ethnic detail included, under wraps. Activists like ACLU of Massachusetts Racial Justice program director Rahsaan Hall thought the House proposal was something of a step backward for finding out who gets stopped and where.

"More problematic aspects of what is required [in the proposal] is a data destruction provision which would interfere with any opportunities to do longitudinal studies on disparities in who was stopped throughout the Commonwealth," Hall said.

Over 50 days after first meeting to finalize the road safety bill, few outside the six-person conference committee are even sure if the two sides are even still formally talking, while leaders insist that they're at least in regular communication.

Sen. Mark Montigny took to the Senate floor Thursday to urge his colleagues to finish work on the bill, saying the families he's worked with for years to make hands-free driving a priority no longer want to hear legislators' excuses for the delay.

"It's okay to have legitimate policy disputes," Montigny said, "but when a bill has been heard over and over and over and negotiated over and over and over, at some point, no matter what we have to do, we have to say enough is enough."

Advocates for road safety are threatening to call out lawmakers more vocally if they don't get the bill done in the next week. They plan to hold a press conference Sept. 26 if a final bill isn't in place.

"I was hit by a 16-year-old who admitted to looking for a song in his phone and hit me head-on on the wrong side of the road. I was med-flighted and I spent almost three weeks on life support at UMass Memorial," said Joanne Arsenault after meeting with Senate President Karen Spilka along with other safety activists to share their stories and find out what's going on with the bill.

Spilka said in a statement she was very moved by the stories victims and survivors of accidents shared. Beyond the Ashland Democrat's promises that the bill is a top priority, Arsenault says the sit-down with Spilka and staff didn't amount to much.

"Nothing. That's - seriously, I'll be honest. They just had a lot of excuses that they can't say anything and it's their top priority. But it's not done," Arsenault said.

Why it's not done is something of a Beacon Hill mystery. Emily Stein is president of the Safe Roads Alliance that is pushing hard for lawmakers to make a deal. Stein says she hears that the dispute as it stands is over whether to remove the racial profiling part of the bill.

"If the data collection/racial profiling piece of this continues to hold back a public safety bill that could be enacted tomorrow, we need to start thinking about separating the issues," Stein said.

Stein's not kidding that it could be enacted tomorrow. Gov. Charlie Baker has told lawmakers for months now he'll sign the ban as soon as he gets it and fellow Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr are pushing for a bare-bones safe driving bill without the complications.

"There is a core of common ideas that could form the basis of a compromise and maybe some of the other items where there is disagreement might be the subject of another bill or a separate effort," Tarr told WGBH News.

Passing a hands-free-driving-only bill that everyone agrees on means leaving the issue of racial profiling for another day. And that could be a hard compromise for racial justice activists who have tried and failed for years to get the state to analyse traffic stop data and who saw the hands-free bill as a way to force the issue.