Massachusetts Senate Passes Bill to Ban Hand-Held Cell Phones While Driving

file000739321417-300x237There’s little debate as to whether talking or texting while driving is safe. Texting while driving is already banned in Massachusetts and Rhode Island as well as many other states, but will hand held cell phone use follow behind? It may soon, at least in Massachusetts. If passed, it would join neighboring Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York in banning the use of hand-held cellphones by motorists. This isn’t the first time the bill has been proposed in Massachusetts and although already approved by the Senate, it still has a way to go before becoming law. The auto accident attorneys at Tapalian Law agree this is a positive move on the road to reducing auto accident fatalities and injuries. Although texting while driving is already banned in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, we still see clients in our Providence, RI, and Seekonk, MA offices every day suffering from car accidents caused by distracted driving, like texting, that have caused them serious personal injury, time lost from work for doctor’s visits, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

Bill Aims to Reduce Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving took nearly 3,500 lives in the United States in 2015. This bill would aim at helping to reduce deaths caused by distracted drivers, as well as car accidents resulting in other types of injuries and property damage. Currently, 46 states have banned texting while driving, and 14 states ban handheld devices. We see drivers everyday with cell phone in hand, either talking or texting while operating a motor vehicle. The bill would require the vehicle operator to pull over and be completely off the road in order to hold or touch a phone. The Mass bill would also make it illegal to access social media, video calls, or camera functions, or manually input data, such as to a GPS system, while driving. Exceptions would be made for a single swipe to activate hands-free functions or for certain emergency calls if there is no one else in the vehicle able to make the call.

Fines for Cell Phone Use Violations

The proposed bill would fine drivers $100 for a first violation, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for a third offense. A third offense would also result in an automobile insurance surcharge. Opponents of the bill says it’s up to drivers to take their own personal responsibility to ensure cell phone use isn’t taking their attention away from the road. In practice for over 15 years, Providence car accident lawyer David Tapalian knows there needs to be ways to hold a driver accountable for their actions. As drivers, we all have a “duty of care” to the other motorists on the road. But with the exponential increase in hand held electronics usage over the years, there needs to be ways to hold drivers accountable and responsible for their actions. Negligent driving can cause death and serious injury and should not be taken lightly. If the bill passes and becomes law, it would create a “presumption that an operator holding the phone near their head is in violation”. Perhaps just knowing this information and its associated fines, will nudge drivers in the right direction to put down the cell phone. One Senate proponent of the Massachusetts bill stated that “After New Hampshire passed a similar law, it saw fatal car accidents due to distracted driving drop from 16 deaths in 2015 to just two in 2016.” Whether the bill passes to become Massachusetts law remains to be seen, but as personal injury and auto accident attorneys, we are proponents of measures taken to decrease the damages and suffering we see from car accident injuries on a daily basis.

Have You Been Hurt by a Driver Talking on a Cell Phone?

If you, or a loved one, has been involved in a vehicle accident caused by a negligent driver that was texting or using a cell phone, you need to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney like David Tapalian. The experienced car accident lawyers at Tapalian Law will speak with you for free to discuss the details of your case. We have offices conveniently located in downtown Providence, RI, and nearby Seekonk, Mass. If you are injured and unable to get to us, we will come to you. Contact Tapalian Law today at


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