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Distracted driving in Massachusetts

What is changing?

A new Massachusetts Distracted Driving Law takes effect February 23, 2020 (with a grace period for violations until March 31): use of handheld electronic devices while driving is banned – no looking at text, videos, or images.  “Hands-free” mode is still allowed.

Fines:

  • First offense = $100
  • Second offense = $250
  • Subsequent offenses = $500

Electronic devices may be used in the following exceptions:

  • If you are in a stopped vehicle, and the vehicle is not in a public way intended for travel by motor vehicles or bicycles.
  • If you are in or responding to an emergency situation.
  • If you are using your device to view a map for navigation purposes and the device is mounted to the vehicle’s windshield, dashboard or center console.

These past suggestions from the Registry of Motor Vehicles can help drivers stay focused on the road:

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.
© 2020