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Massachusetts Enacts Hands-Free Driving Law This February

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Distracted Driving
Massachusetts cracks down on distracted driving with its new hands-free law
Photo: Hershel Venkat Talluri

After almost two decades of public debate, Massachusetts is finally establishing a hands-free driving law. Here’s what you should know about the new legislation as well as when it will go into effect.

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The new law

The Massachusetts law is similar to other hands-free driving laws that other states have adopted. The goal is to curb distracted driving by making smartphone use while driving a direct offense.

Per WCBV News, the new law bans drivers from holding a “mobile electronic device.” It also prohibits drivers from using these devices unless they are set to hands-free mode.

And, in case anyone has any doubts about what constitutes distracted driving behaviors, the law also explicitly forbids “reading or viewing text, images, or video” — unless the device is mounted to a secure phone holder on the center console, dashboard, or windshield.

The exceptions

Like with any law, this one has its caveats. You can still use electronics if you need to contact emergency services to respond to a crisis. And you can also still use your phone per usual if you’re in a parked vehicle.

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When it goes into effect

Teenager Driving Teen Driver
The new law should encourage MA drivers to keep both hands safely on the wheel

Per WCBV News, the new law will go into effect Feb. 23. Police officers will give offenders warnings through March 31, as everyone gets used to the new legislation. After this date, however, they’ll start writing tickets. It will be $100 for a first offense and $250 for a second one, then increase to $500 for any repeat offenses after that.

If you live in Massachusetts and already make a habit to turn off your smartphone while driving (or at least, set it to “do not disturb” mode), then you should have nothing to fear about the new law. Though, if you’re still trying to ditch distracted driving habits to the curb, review these tips here. Or download one of these apps that blocks notifications when it senses that your car is in motion.