Final Agreement Reached on Hands-Free Bill
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Legislature has reached a final agreement on legislation first filed 5,800 days ago by Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford to ban the use of handheld devices while driving a motor vehicle.
Earlier this year, the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously approved Montigny's legislation for the third time in less than four years. Despite repeated approval, Massachusetts remains the only New England state without such a law.
" I guess the best thing I can say is I'm relieved," said Senator Montigny." The things that my staff and I had done, more closely than anyone, is work with these families, who are either survivors or they've lost loved ones and they are out passionately hoping to change the law to save future lives," added Montigny.
Since 2004, Montigny has worked with families of distracted driving victims to prohibit the use of handheld devices while driving. His legislation has included strong measures sought by the families, including insurance surcharges for repeat offenders and ensuring any use of a phone is limited to a single tap or swipe.
Montigny told WBSM News that he has worked closely with families who have lost loved ones due to distracted driving and explaining to them the process of Beacon Hill, at times, has not been easy.
" It's been really hard to explain to them how Beacon Hill works or doesn't work. I filed the first bill in the country in 2004, and I don't go away on it once I feel it's the right thing," said Montigny.
"To think that there might be future lives that we never know about, they feel some urgency and some solace knowing that there will be lives saved in the memory of their loved one," added Montigny.
Montigny took to the Senate floor several times int he past two months to remind colleagues that it has been well over 160 days since the Senate passed the bill earlier this year.
With the final bill approved by the Conference Committee, both the House and Senate must vote to enact the final bill. It will then head to Governor Baker for his signature, where Montigny is optimistic he will approve as the Governor included Montigny's language in his own hands free proposal earlier this year.