Massachusetts Senate passes bill banning handheld cellphone use

A recent bill passed by the Massachusetts Senate would ban drivers from using a handheld device as they operate a vehicle.

Many drivers cannot put down their cellphones and focus on driving when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle, an action that endangers the lives of others on the road with them. Since distracted driving is a widespread problem in Massachusetts, the state senate recently passed a bill banning the use of handheld devices while driving.

What the bill entails

The bill would ban drivers from holding a mobile device in either hand while their vehicle is in motion. However, drivers would be permitted to perform a single "tap or swipe" so they are able to active hands-free mode. Some of the functions banned by this bill would include writing, sending or reading text messages, inputting information into a navigation system, making video calls and using social media sites. The use of hands-free technology would be allowed for making calls and GPS navigation.

According to Mass Live, drivers caught disobeying this law would be fined $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.

The scope of the problem

Although this bill is designed to reduce the number of drivers who endanger others by using handheld devices behind the wheel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a driver's full attention away from the road. This means that activities like eating, switching the radio station and talking to passengers while driving can make a driver more likely to cause an injurious or serious car accident.

There are also three main types of distraction, which include the following:

  • Manual distraction--This type of distraction occurs when drivers remove their hands from the steering wheel. For instance, a driver who removes his or her hands from the steering wheel to grab a cellphone is manually distracted.
  • Cognitive distraction--Drivers who are no longer mentally focused on driving are cognitively distracted. If, for example, a driver focuses on a conversation being had with a passenger, he or she is cognitively distracted.
  • Visual distraction--When drivers remove their eyes from the road, they become visually distracted. For example, a driver who looks at a GPS device for directions instead of the road is visually distracted.

Regardless of the type of distraction, collisions involving a distracted driver can create legal, financial and medical difficulties for this involved. Drivers in Massachusetts who were harmed in an accident caused by distraction should contact an attorney in their area for legal assistance.