Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving Awareness

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month! Please remember to put the phone away while your driving, or stop in a safe location out of the lane of travel to use your device. We will have increased distracted driving enforcement throughout the month of April and the upcoming summer months.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019 distracted driving crashes killed 3,142 people in the U.S., an average of 9 deaths per day. That number was up 10 percent from the year before (2,839 deaths in 2018). In southern New England (RI/MA/CT), 35 people died in 2019 as a result of distracted driving.

Here are some tips to eliminate distracted from AAA:

    • put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
    • Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
    • Pull over. If you must call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
    • Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
    • Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
    • Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
    • Activate Do Not Disturb. Setting up this feature on iPhone or Android device will prevent calls from coming in while you’re driving.
Everyone should prevent being intexticated. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling

Massachusetts Hands-Free Law

Massachusetts law prohibits operators of motor vehicles and bicycles from using any electronic device, including mobile telephones, unless the device is used in hands-free mode.

The hands-free law took effect as of February 23, 2020.

Penalty for violating the hands-free law:

  • 1st offense – $100 fine.

  • 2nd offense – $250 fine, plus mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program.

  • 3rd and subsequent offenses – $500 fine, plus insurance surcharge and mandatory completion of distracted driving educational program.

What does this mean for me?

Drivers who are 18 and over

  • Can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode and are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode.

  • Not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone.

  • Cannot touch phone except to activate the hands-free mode and can only enable when the device is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle.

  • Not allowed to touch device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use.

  • Activation of GPS navigation is permitted when the device is installed or properly mounted.

  • Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane, but is not allowed at red lights or stop signs.

  • Voice to text and communication to electronic devices is legal only when device is properly mounted; use of headphone (one ear) is permitted.

Drivers who are under 18

  • Are not allowed to use any electronic devices. All phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.

Operators may use a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency. If possible, safely pull over and stop before calling 911.