The Massachusetts Senate recently voted 40-0 to approve legislation that prohibits the use of all mobile devices while behind the wheel, reports WCVB.
While the Senate passed similar legislation twice in the past, those bills died in the House, but this time the House and Gov. Charlie Baker are backing the bill, notes the report.
The Senate bill (S 2216) would prohibit any handheld use of smartphones or other devices, allowing motorists to make only one tap or swipe to activate or deactivate a hands-free mode or to launch GPS directions.
The only exception to the new law is for first-responders in emergency situations.
Under current Massachusetts law, drivers are not allowed to send or receive text messages or emails, but authorities say many motorists continue to use their phones while behind the wheel. Presently, making phone calls, using certain apps and Internet browsing is not prohibited.
Penalties will be steep. Violators of the new law will be fined $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for any subsequent offenses.
The House approved its own version of the legislation last month, notes the report. The two bills have some differences, particularly as it concerns collection of racial and ethnic data at traffic stops to track for bias.
However, the House and Senate plan to reconcile these differences in order to move a final distracted driving bill to the governor for signing, reports WCVB.