Massachusetts considers ban on all handheld devices while driving

After a devastating year on the roads, Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a new distracted driving ban.

Massachusetts could soon join its neighbors in passing a ban on the use of all handheld devices while driving. According to the Boston Herald, the proposed ban was recently passed by a key transportation committee and given preliminary approval in the House at the State Legislature. While there are no guarantees that the legislation will ultimately be passed, its supporters say that unlike in previous years support for a ban on handheld devices is high, especially in the wake of an increase in fatal motor vehicle accidents both in Massachusetts and across the country.

What the bill does

The bill would make it illegal for motorists to use cellphones while they are driving unless it is for an emergency. The ban would cover not just talking on a phone, but also using a phone to take pictures or for social media. Drivers would still be permitted to use hands-free functions with their mobile device and they would be able to use the phone to "activate, deactivate or initiate a feature or function".

The bill has already passed the Joint Committee on Transportation and recently won approval by the House. It now heads for a third reading, which is the final hurdle it must clear before it is actually put to a vote. Similar bills have been proposed in the past, but have failed to make it to a vote.

Support grows for ban

While previous versions of a ban on handheld devices while driving have failed, this time the ban's supporters say they are in a much stronger position to get the legislation passed. Currently Massachusetts only specifically prohibits texting and driving, while still allowing drivers to talk on the phone or use their phones for other distracting purposes. Critics of the texting and driving ban also say that it is difficult to enforce since drivers who are texting can simply claim that they were using their phone for some other purpose. Furthermore, the neighboring states of Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont have already made using a handheld device while driving illegal.

Support for the ban has also grown thanks to a huge increase in traffic fatalities across the region and the country. As Forbes reports, traffic fatalities soared 20 percent last year across New England, a steeper increase than anywhere else in the country. While there are many reasons for that increase, distracted driving is widely believed to be among the leading ones.

Personal injury law

Being involved in a car accident can be a devastating experience, especially since most accidents are entirely avoidable. For those who have been hurt, particularly if the accident may have been caused by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver, then it is important to talk to a personal injury attorney today. An attorney can help clients with the various legal issues that arise after an accident, including with pursuing financial compensation that they may be entitled to.