Massachusetts Introduces New Phone Law

New Hand-Free law in Mass aims to stop distracted driving.

New Hand-Free law in Mass aims to stop distracted driving.

Madelyn Drohan, Reporter

On Monday, November 25th, 2019, Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, signed a new phone law that bans hand-held cell phone use by drivers. The purpose of this law is to try to finally put a stop to distracted driving. Drivers over 18 are required to use Bluetooth or other hands-free technology if using the phone while driving. The phone must be up on a mount, away from the driver’s hands. However, for all drivers under the age of 18, the phone should be nowhere near them. It is actually recommended that the phone should stay in either the trunk of the car or in the backseat on do not disturb so drivers under 18 don’t feel the urge to use the phone. 

The consequences of getting caught for using your phone while driving vary from how many times you are caught. For your first offense, you will be fined $100, for the second time $250, and for the third time $500. Along with the fines, second and third-time offenders have to take a distracted-driving class, third-time offenders even have the possibility of having an added expense added onto their car insurance. 

According to carsurance.net, there are 1.6 million car accidents caused by texting while driving occurs every year and the number of deaths in the US caused by texting and driving is about 6,000 every year. As often as car accidents occur in the US, it is twenty-three times more likely for a driver to be in a car accident if they are reading or sending a text message; it only takes two seconds of not looking at the road to get into a fatal car accident. 

Town and state police officers have the authority to stop anyone who they suspect to be actively using their phones while they are driving. If you need to use your phone for an emergency while you’re driving, then just safely pull over to the side of the road or the shoulder of a highway and answer the call or text. Drivers also cannot use their phones while stopped at a stoplight or a stop sign (while in a travel lane), only when they are completely parked and not on the road. “While I’m driving I find it hard to not text someone back, especially if I hear it go off a lot,” said Molly Ivers, a junior at WSHS. 

People view this law in two different ways; some think that enforcing this law will help and some don’t. Some people believe that there are ways drivers can still use technology while not using their phones so it should be easy for them not to use them. Ms. Herd, a math teacher at WSHS said, “There are plenty of ways to talk on the phone or control music while driving without needing to use our phones, so it makes sense to enforce this.” On the flip side, some people think that the law is pointless. “I do not think it will have an impact on distracted driving because I still feel like others will always use their phones while driving even though there is a law. For example, speeding is against the law but people are always speeding no matter what the law said,” said Arianna Santiago, a freshman at WSHS. 

 Modern cars have more safety features to prevent drivers from being part of a fatal car accident such as automatically stopping when another car is too close or very loud beeping when an object that they could crash into. They also have Bluetooth as a way to make and receive calls without having to take your eyes off the road. Cars made years ago don’t have nearly as many safety precautions as cars do now, however, none of those safety features will help if you’re being irresponsible by looking at your phone rather than the road ahead of you. The text on your phone can wait, your life can’t. Be careful while you’re driving and don’t let your devices distract you, the text will still be there later.