In February 2020, Massachusetts implemented a Hands-Free Driving Law, making it illegal for those operating a motor vehicle to compose or read text messages or emails, engage with social media, or watch videos or use the camera functions on their phone. This law also completely restricts phone use for drivers under the age of 18. Penalties for the aforementioned activities include the following:
- First Offense: $100 fine
- Second Offense: $250 fine and mandatory distracted driving education course
- Third Offense: $500, surchargeable to driver’s insurance
To operate a phone while driving without incurring a penalty, the phone must be affixed to the vehicle’s windshield, dashboard, or center console instead of being held. GPS can be activated or a call can be made or received with a maximum of one touch or one swipe. Manually dialing a phone number or entering a GPS location is forbidden while the car is in motion.
It is recommended that drivers program their GPS and make calls or send texts before driving, or when the vehicle is fully parked. Importantly, hands-free driving is never risk-free driving. The safest way to drive is to put the phone away altogether and focus on the road.
Project funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety & Security’s Office of Grants & Research with Section 405-c NHTSA grant funding.