I’m sure, like me, you’ve been seeing the “On the road, off the phone, just drive.” highway signs. That’s because the Massachusetts “hands-free” law takes effect on February 23rd. Read on to find out what you need to know.
According to the mass.gov website:
“Fines Up To $500
Massachusetts law prohibits operators of motor vehicles from using any electronic device, including mobile telephones, unless the device is used in hands-free mode.
The ‘hands-free’ law is effective as of February 23, 2020.
Penalty for violating the hands-free law:
- 1st offense – $100 fine.
- 2nd offense – $250 fine, plus mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program.
- 3rd and subsequent offenses – $500 fine, plus insurance surcharge and mandatory completion of distracted driving educational program.
What does this mean for me?
Drivers who are 18 and over
- Can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode and are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode.
- Not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone.
- Cannot touch phone except to activate the hands-free mode and can only enable when the device is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle.
- Not allowed to touch device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use.
- Activation of GPS navigation is permitted when the device is installed or properly mounted.
- Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane or a bicycle lane, but is not allowed at red lights or stop signs.
- Voice to text and communication to electronic devices is legal only when device is properly mounted; use of headphone (one ear) is permitted.
Drivers who are under 18
- Are not allowed to use any electronic devices. All phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.
Operators may use a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency. If possible, safely pull over and stop before calling 911.”
I’ve been using my car’s Bluetooth feature for a while now in anticipation of this law taking effect and I bought one of those device holders that mount on the heat vent for my GPS, so I’m ready. I guess I’ll have to ditch taking funny pictures of things while I’m sitting in stopped traffic.