A bill that would ban the use of cell phones while driving is stalled on Beacon Hill — and we need your support to convince lawmakers they can no longer punt on this life-saving measure.
Massachusetts banned texting while driving in 2010, but did not prevent drivers from holding their phones for other purposes, such as making calls or taking selfies. The Massachusetts Senate approved a bill (S.2103) in 2016 and again in 2017 which would ban the use of handheld devices while driving, and Governor Baker endorsed hands-free legislation in November 2017. However, the corollary House bill (H3660) is stalled, and has not yet even been brought up for a vote. With a July 31 deadline for roll call votes before the current legislative session ends, we and fellow advocates are now calling on the House to simply bring hands-free legislation up for a vote lest this important bill wither once again from legislative inaction.
Distracted driving killed 3,450 people in the U.S. in 2016 alone, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These crashes caused by distracted driving are not accidents; they are 100% preventable. People biking and walking on our streets are vulnerable, and one distracted move by someone behind a two-ton automobile can easily cause a fatal or life-altering crash. A hands-free bill is an important step toward ending this epidemic.
Massachusetts and Maine are the only states in New England without hands-free laws on the books. Nationwide, sixteen states enforce hands-free laws.
We need state representatives to prioritize the issue of distracted driving and ask the Speaker and House Leadership to take up the bill. We cannot put more lives at risk and end this session without passing a distracted driving bill.
Last week, we joined Hands-Free Massachusetts, TextLess Live More, Safe Roads Alliance, Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, WalkBoston, LivableStreets and MassBike for a rally and press conference at the Massachusetts State House calling on state lawmakers to finally pass this long-delayed legislation. Thank you to all who stood with us! This demonstration received widespread media coverage, drawing attention to the issue and raising the odds lawmakers will act.
As of now, the bill remains stalled on Beacon hill. Here’s what you can do today to push lawmakers to finally stamp out this handheld hazard.
- Contact your state reps and ask them to prioritize distracted driving legislation. If you do not know who your representative is, you can find out by visiting https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator or by calling Charlotte Boghossian at (617) 423-1177.
- What to say when contacting your legislators: Hi, my name is ____ and I am calling to ask that you please prioritize the passage of distracted driving legislation before the end of this session. As you may know, Massachusetts is a leader in so many fields, but it falls behind other states in New England when it comes to addressing the public safety issue of distracted driving. We need the Legislature to take action immediately and pass distracted driving legislation before the end of this session. We cannot end this legislative session without the passage of this legislation that will save countless lives across the Commonwealth. Please contact House leadership today and ask them to take up distracted driving legislation before the end of formal sessions on July 31st.
Thank you for your advocacy! Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.