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  • Writer's pictureCathy Hertler

Massachusetts Hands Free Driving Law Begins February 23rd!

We are all guilty of chatting on the phone as we drive, especially in my line of work, I am doing a lot of work calls as I am getting from point A to point B. My car is my mobile office! It has always been one of my pet peeves seeing drivers texting or just playing on their phones as they drive. I never know where I am safer…driving behind them or just passing them and leaving them behind.  I admit, I have checked an email or text at a stop light, and I have adjusted driving directions on my phone when it is on the dashboard mount, but never while driving. With all that said, I am very happy this law is in place.

Here are the quick details of the new law:

For drivers 18 or over:

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

  2. Are not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone

  3. 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

  4. Are not allowed to touch device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use

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

  6. 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

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

For drivers under the age of 18:

  1. No use any electronic devices. All phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.

The fines for violating the hands-free law are as follows:

  1. 1st offense – $100 fine

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

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

Drivers will be allowed to use a cell phone to call 911 for an emergency but are advised, if possible, to pull over safely before calling 911.

10 tips for managing driver distractions

  1. Turn it off. Turn your phone off or switch to silent mode before you get in the car. Or better yet, put the phone away in a place it cannot be accessed while driving.

  2. Spread the word. Set up a special message to tell callers that you are driving and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible, or sign up for a service that offers this.

  3. Pull over. If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first.

  4. Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to communicate for you.

  5. X the text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It is dangerous and against the law in most states.

  6. Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car.

  7. Prepare. Start your GPS or review maps and directions before you start to drive. If you need help when you are on the road, ask a passenger to help or pull over to a safe location to review the map and/or directions.

  8. Secure your pets. Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you start to drive.

  9. Keep the kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.

  10. Focus on the task at hand. Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.

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