MA Bans Texting While Driving

Massachusetts Senate Passes Safe Driving Legislation

On Tuesday the Massachusetts Senate passed a safe driving legislative package that bans texting. The bill also prohibits “junior operators,” those under the age of 18, from both texting and talking on a cell phone while driving; and operators of public transit – including the BRTA and school buses – are prohibited from any use of cell phones, except in the case of an emergency.

“My hope is this legislation will ensure that when drivers take the wheel in Massachusetts their first priority, focus and concern will be operating their vehicle safely,” said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield).

A 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to be involved in a crash because of texting, and truck drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to have an accident than someone who isn’t distracted.

The Senate’s legislation makes texting a primary offense, which means a driver can be pulled over specifically for the act of texting while driving. It also establishes a fine of up to $200, two years in jail, or both for anyone who causes an accident while texting and driving.

Legislation Also Establishes Safe Guidelines for Seniors

The bill requires persons between the ages of 75 and 80 to submit once during those five years an assessment form to be developed jointly by the Registry of Motor Vehicles and its Medical Advisory Board, but filled out by the individual’s physician or health care provider. Based on that assessment, the Registrar would determine if the person can safely operate the vehicle.

After a person turns 80, the form must be filed every three years. Those who are denied their license can request a road test in an effort to demonstrate they have the skills necessary to keep their license and continue driving.

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