Massachusetts has passed a hands-free driving law that makes it the 16th state in the nation to pass such a law, according to media reports.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed the legislation on Nov. 25, reports WAMC. The new law, which takes effect on Feb. 23, forbids drivers from holding a phone for any reason.
The law prohibits motorists from using electronic devices, including cellphones and tablets, unless the technology is being used hands-free. The law also bans bicyclists from the same activities.
In 2010, Massachusetts banned texting while driving, however, officials found it challenging to enforce because they could not tell from a distance if a motorist was placing a call or texting, notes the report.
However, under the law, drivers are allowed to view a map generated by a navigation system or application on a mobile electronic device that is mounted or affixed to a vehicle’s windshield, dashboard or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle, reports WCVB.
When the law takes effect, police will issue only warnings until March 31.
Subsequently, a first offense will be a $100 fine, a second offense will cost $250, and a third violation will result in a $500 fine as well as a possible insurance surcharge, according to reports.
Drivers ticketed a second time must also attend a distracted driving class.
Distracted driving remains one the nation’s most serious roadway hazards. In 2017 alone, there were 3,166 fatalities as a result of distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.