Road Safety Advocates Backing Montigny Cell Phone Ban
Advocates for road safety took to Beacon Hill to call for Senator Montigny's legislation to make Massachusetts the sixteenth state to ban the hand-held use of cell phones while driving.
Medical professionals, law enforcement, transportation experts and families who lost loved ones echoed the need for urgent action. Last November, Governor Charlie Baker made a similar push, calling on the legislature to deliver the bill to his desk before this summer.
In June 2017, the Senate again passed Montigny's legislation to crack down on distracted driving. In addition to banning the use of handheld phones and electronics while driving, the bill also provides an affirmative defense for any violator who can demonstrate that they used their device in certain emergency situations.
Senator Montigny has been a longtime leader in legislative efforts to prohibit the use of mobile telephones and devices while driving, and more than 10 years ago he filed one of the first bills in the country.
According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle crashes claimed over 40,000 lives in the United States in 2016. Distracted driving, including cell phone use, is estimated to account for 25% of those fatalities.
In 2016, Massachusetts experienced a 13 percent increase in motor vehicle fatalities, resulting in 399 deaths. In order to reduce the number of dangerous accidents on Massachusetts roadways, the Senate passed Montigny's legislation last session but it failed to gain approval from the house.
The Senate again passed this bill earlier this year and is now awaiting action from the house. Safe Roads Alliance President Emily Stein called for the swift passage of this bill to prevent more fatalities on our roads.
“We need better laws that get people to put down the phone and focus on the road,” said Stein. “It was very encouraging when the Senate passed their hands-free bill, and even more so when Governor Baker endorsed it. Now we just need the house to get on board. it's about time."
With support from advocates, the Senate and the Governor, Montigny's legislation and longtime efforts have dashed to the top of this year's legislative agenda.
“The evidence is clear our roads are becoming more dangerous and deadly,” said Senator Montigny. “At a time when hands-free technology is widely available and affordable, there is no reason why we should refrain from requiring hands-free usage to improve roadway safety and help police enforce the law.”
-- Senator Montigny's Office --