Tackling distracted driving
You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing and fatally injuring yourself and others.WHAT IS DISTRACTED DRIVING?
Distracted driving is when a driver focuses their attention on an activity other than driving. You are driving distracted if you are reading or sending texts, looking at directions, changing the music, or talking to other people in the car.
Know the Law in Massachusetts
Know the Law in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, it is now against the law to use a hand-held electronic device while driving, except in an emergency. This includes talking on the phone, texting, using a mapping program, and using the Internet. Use of a device in hands-free mode is allowed.
On September 25, 2019, Governor Baker signed the distracted driving bill into law. The law prohibits the use of any hand-held electronic device while driving, except in the case of an emergency.
Massachusetts already had a ban on texting, emailing, and accessing the internet on a hand-held device while driving under the MA Safe Driving Law passed in 2010. However, the ban did not cover talking on the phone or other uses except for drivers under the age of 18. The new law prohibits any use of a hand-held electronic device except in hands-free mode, which makes it easier to enforce. A single swipe or tap is allowed to enable hands-free mode.
The law takes effect February 23, 2020. Warnings will be issued to first time offenders until March 31, 2020. Starting April 1, 2020, the penalties will be:
- $100 for a first ticket
- $250 for a second ticket and driver education
- $500 for a third or subsequent ticket. driver education, and surchargeable
Surchargeable means that your insurance costs may increase because of the violation.
What this means for us in Boston
The new law is a reminder that distracted driving can impact lives, and will be taken seriously in Boston and throughout Massachusetts. Distracted driving includes any activity that takes your attention away from the road. But, the rise in the use of hand-held devices has coincided with increases in fatal pedestrian crashes and is believed to be a major factor.
Please help us keep Boston's streets safe for all. Keep your eyes and attention on the road.
Information about this law has been made available in seven languages below.
Turn it off. Turn your phone off before you get in the car. Or, put the phone away in a place it cannot be accessed while driving.
Pause notifications. Set your phone to "Do Not Disturb While Driving" mode (see links on how to do this on this site). Your phone will detect when you are driving and automatically send a response to incoming texts.
Pull over. If you need to make a call or look up directions, pull over to a safe area first.
Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to communicate or navigate for you.
X the text. Don't ever text, surf the web, or read your email while driving. It is dangerous and against the law in MA and most other states.
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. You can also pull over to a safe location to review the map and directions. Use a dashboard mount if you need to use your phone for navigation.
Keep the kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
Focus on the task at hand. Don’t eat, drink, read, or do any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
I Promise to Just Drive
- I will not text, surf the web, or talk on my phone while driving.
- I will be a good passenger and speak out if the driver in my car is distracted.
- I will encourage my friends and family to drive phone-free.
Photo credit: Phil Roeder (tabor roeder on Flickr)
- Parents first have to lead by example by never driving distracted.
- Talk with your young driver about distraction and all of the responsibilities that come with driving.
- Have everyone in the family sign the pledge to commit to distraction-free driving.
- Remind your loved ones that a violation of distracted-driving laws could mean a fine, higher insurance costs, a suspended license, or all.
- Employers can play a part, too! Spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving. Invite someone to speak at an employee lunch (ask Safe Roads Alliance for a suggestion). Hang posters by the water cooler.
- Ask your employees to commit to distraction-free driving.
- Set a company policy on distracted driving.
- Ask your insurance company if they have an app to track your driving habits. Many offer discounts for good drivers who use their app.
- Read about Boston’s Safest Driver campaign!