Montigny: New Bill Stronger Than ‘Useless’ Cell Phone Law
If you like to talk on your cell phone while driving in Massachusetts, it might be time to invest in some hands-free technology.
The state's Transportation Committee voted unanimously Friday for legislation that would ban all Massachusetts drivers from holding a cell phone to make a call, use the phone's camera or access social media.
Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) says its time for stricter legislation, since the 2010 bill he helped push through the legislature that banned texting while driving is still too limited. He told WBSM News he'll continue to advocate for stronger laws against cell phone use while driving.
"For one simple reason," he said. "A lot of people are dying on the roads because of it, and it's becoming more and more prevalent, and therefore more and more dangerous. The mortality and morbidity statistics are through the roof."
The new bill would require all cell phone use in a vehicle to be completely hands-free. Montigny said the current law makes it too hard to tell if a driver is dialing or texting. He said that makes law enforcement less likely to pull someone over, because the driver would likely fight the fine in court and say they were dialing the phone, rather than texting.
"Because the bill allowed for use of the cell phone in the hand, it was very difficult for law enforcement to assert if someone was dialing or texting," Montigny said. "So in effect, the current cell phone ban is useless."
Montigny said another issue is that the smartphones of today do more than the phones from when the original ban was put in place in 2010.
"The use of cell phones, smartphones have all kinds of functions like social media, video, pictures, texting," he said. "It's becoming more and more distracting, and therefore more and more dangerous."
Montigny said hands-free technology is "cheap, very simple and in some cases, free."
A hands-free-only bill passed in the Senate in January of 2016, but didn't make it out of the House.