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Mass Legislature Contemplates Cell Phone Ban While Driving

According to a report published by the Highway Loss Data Institution in January 2012, talking on a hand-held cell phone is banned in 10 states and in Washington, D.C. This group includes several states in the Northeast region of the country, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. Massachusetts is not among the listing, although the state legislature has recently been debating the issue.

Massachusetts banned texting while driving in September 2010, when the Safe Driving Law became effective. The Commonwealth also bans drivers under age 18 from using a cell phone while driving. School bus drivers and passenger bus drivers are likewise banned from using cell phones while driving, for apparent safety reasons. Violations of these laws result in fines and license suspensions. As of yet, however, Massachusetts currently does not have a comprehensive law banning hand-held cell phone use while driving.

Last week, a session of the Joint Committee on Transportation held a cell phone law hearing on the issue of banning handheld cell phones while driving. Various proposed bills recommend a variety of different bans, including:
• use of handheld cell phones by ALL Massachusetts drivers • use of wireless phones while driving through school zones • use of cell phones while operating a vehicle in a school zone • use of hands-free devices while making cell phone calls • use of cell phones while driving through school zones • use of cell phones by holders of junior driver’s licenses

According to a 2010 report from the National Safety Council analyzing distracting driving behaviors, at any point in time an estimated 11% of all drivers are talking on cell phones while driving, and approximately 1.4 million crashes in 2008 involved talking on cell phones-which, according to the Council, is greater than the number of accidents due to texting or emailing. Several zealous Massachusetts legislators are keen on expanding MA driving laws to prohibit cell phone use while driving, in an attempt to reduce the number of car accidents each year, although advocates are facing resistance from opponents.

If you have a question about current cell phone laws in Massachusetts, or if you were injured by a driver using his or her cell phone, an experienced Boston car accident attorney can help you through the process of filing a claim.

Hands-Free Info, January 10, 2012
Cellphone and texting laws, Insurance Institution for Highway Safety, January 2012
Safe Driving Law Summary, Massachusetts Department of Transportation – RMV Division

Understanding the distracted brain, National Safety Council, March 2010.