New bill filed in Mass. to ban recording, broadcasting video while driving

New bill filed in Mass. to ban recording, broadcasting video while driving

There is a new push to further reduce distracted driving in Massachusetts and it involves strengthening the state's hands-free driving law.The state's hands-free law already prohibits drivers from holding their phones behind the wheel, but a deadly crash in Western Mass in October has prompted one lawmaker to try to close a loophole in the law.The existing law went into effect in February 2020, but that isn't stopping some people from doing it anyway as 5 Investigates witnessed again and again this week on our highways. But now there’s another concern.Unlike some other states that have cracked down on distracted driving, the Massachusetts law does not ban drivers from recording or broadcasting video of themselves while driving, using apps like FaceTime.A new bill would change that.“Just because you're not touching your phone doesn't mean that you're not distracted,” said state Sen. Jo Comerford, who filed the bill after one of her constituents, a musician, was hit and killed by a driver while riding his bicycle in Northampton in October.The proposed legislation is called “Charlie's Law,” in honor of the victim, musician Charlie Braun.“Charlie was on a bicycle and the driver's attention was diverted by a FaceTime video chat while she was driving and it cost Charlie his life,” Comerford said.“Charlie was the love of my life,” said Braun’s partner, Joan Ringrose Sellers. “He was hilarious. He loved laughing, eating, sporting, biking, kayaking, hiking. He just, he loved life.”Braun had asked Ringrose Sellers to go on the bike ride with him that day, but she had work to do and declined his invitation.“It was preventable, number one,” Ringrose Sellers said. “He really should have come home at the end of that bike ride.”Data shows drivers distracted while recording videos is a growing problem.An insurance industry research department report called Distracted While Driving found the number of people recording videos while driving more than doubled between 2015 and 2020 and that younger drivers are more likely to engage in this behavior.“Don't do it,” Ringrose Sellers said. “Just put your phone away. If you need to use your phone, pull off into a parking lot. Put your hazards on. Pull over to the side of the road in a safe place.”The 23-year-old driver who hit Charlie Braun pleaded not guilty to negligent motor vehicle homicide, failing to stop for a stop sign, and use of an electronic device while driving.Braun's partner hopes that, along with passing the new law, the state does a better job getting the message out to young people about the dangers of using their phones while they're driving.

There is a new push to further reduce distracted driving in Massachusetts and it involves strengthening the state's hands-free driving law.

The state's hands-free law already prohibits drivers from holding their phones behind the wheel, but a deadly crash in Western Mass in October has prompted one lawmaker to try to close a loophole in the law.

The existing law went into effect in February 2020, but that isn't stopping some people from doing it anyway as 5 Investigates witnessed again and again this week on our highways. But now there’s another concern.

Unlike some other states that have cracked down on distracted driving, the Massachusetts law does not ban drivers from recording or broadcasting video of themselves while driving, using apps like FaceTime.

A new bill would change that.

“Just because you're not touching your phone doesn't mean that you're not distracted,” said state Sen. Jo Comerford, who filed the bill after one of her constituents, a musician, was hit and killed by a driver while riding his bicycle in Northampton in October.

The proposed legislation is called “Charlie's Law,” in honor of the victim, musician Charlie Braun.

“Charlie was on a bicycle and the driver's attention was diverted by a FaceTime video chat while she was driving and it cost Charlie his life,” Comerford said.

“Charlie was the love of my life,” said Braun’s partner, Joan Ringrose Sellers. “He was hilarious. He loved laughing, eating, sporting, biking, kayaking, hiking. He just, he loved life.”

Braun had asked Ringrose Sellers to go on the bike ride with him that day, but she had work to do and declined his invitation.

“It was preventable, number one,” Ringrose Sellers said. “He really should have come home at the end of that bike ride.”

An insurance industry research department report called Distracted While Driving found the number of people recording videos while driving more than doubled between 2015 and 2020 and that younger drivers are more likely to engage in this behavior.

“Don't do it,” Ringrose Sellers said. “Just put your phone away. If you need to use your phone, pull off into a parking lot. Put your hazards on. Pull over to the side of the road in a safe place.”

The 23-year-old driver who hit Charlie Braun pleaded not guilty to negligent motor vehicle homicide, failing to stop for a stop sign, and use of an electronic device while driving.

Braun's partner hopes that, along with passing the new law, the state does a better job getting the message out to young people about the dangers of using their phones while they're driving.

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