Police get creative reminding motorists of new distracted driving law

Last updated: 04-28-2020

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Police get creative reminding motorists of new distracted driving law

Fines will begin in spring 2020; first offense will cost drivers $100

Just days before Massachusetts drivers are required to put down their phones behind the wheel, one local police department found a creative way to remind motorists.Cambridge police posted a video of a mock traffic stop, triggered by a woman on her cell phone while driving on city streets. "The reason I pulled you over is you were on your cell phone," the officer says, before explaining the breakdown of the new law and penalties, noting the restriction is in effect even while "double pahked." The law takes effect on Feb. 23.The legislation banning the use of handheld electronic devices while driving was passed by lawmakers in November, after about 17 years of debate. It mirrors laws in place in many other states and deals with two issues: requiring hands-free device use while driving and monitoring for racial profiling of motorists by law enforcement.The law mandates that drivers use their mobile devices in hands-free mode, even if using it for something other than texting. Broken down, it says:No operator of a motor vehicle shall hold a mobile electronic device.No operator of a motor vehicle shall use a mobile electronic device unless the device is being used in hands-free mode. No operator of a motor vehicle shall read or view text, images or video displayed on a mobile electronic device; provided, however, that an operator may view a map generated by a navigation system or application on a mobile electronic device that is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s windshield, dashboard or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle. The new law permits the use of electronic devices if they are being used in response to an emergency, necessary for first responders to do their jobs. It also permits use if operators are stationary and not in active lanes of travel.Drivers will only receive warnings for violating any of the new provisions through March 31.After that, fines are scheduled to start at $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.Third and subsequent offenses would also draw auto insurance surcharges.State agencies will track the age, gender and race of every motorist issued a citation or warning, and to publish an anonymized summary of the data every year as a way to track for biased enforcement.

Just days before Massachusetts drivers are required to put down their phones behind the wheel, one local police department found a creative way to remind motorists.

Cambridge police posted a video of a mock traffic stop, triggered by a woman on her cell phone while driving on city streets.

"The reason I pulled you over is you were on your cell phone," the officer says, before explaining the breakdown of the new law and penalties, noting the restriction is in effect even while "double pahked."

The legislation banning the use of handheld electronic devices while driving was passed by lawmakers in November, after about 17 years of debate.

It mirrors laws in place in many other states and deals with two issues: requiring hands-free device use while driving and monitoring for racial profiling of motorists by law enforcement.

The law mandates that drivers use their mobile devices in hands-free mode, even if using it for something other than texting.

Broken down, it says:

The new law permits the use of electronic devices if they are being used in response to an emergency, necessary for first responders to do their jobs. It also permits use if operators are stationary and not in active lanes of travel.

Drivers will only receive warnings for violating any of the new provisions through March 31.

After that, fines are scheduled to start at $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.

Third and subsequent offenses would also draw auto insurance surcharges.

State agencies will track the age, gender and race of every motorist issued a citation or warning, and to publish an anonymized summary of the data every year as a way to track for biased enforcement.


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