Montigny Frustrated As Distracted Driving Bill Stalls In Committee
House and Senate Democrats failed to reach a compromise on long-discussed distracted driving legislation after a marathon session Wednesday, abandoning the issue about four hours after Senate President Karen Spilka said a resolution appeared imminent.
State Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) said Thursday, he was extremely frustrated by the delay, adding he's been working on legislation that would ban hand-held cell phone use while driving for 15 years.
"No excuse, it should have been done," said Montigny. "It's typical Beacon Hill, fighting over moving little pieces of paper." Montigny added, "the sad thing here though, every day, every week, every month delayed, the fatality statistics look worse. This will cost lives."
Both branches passed bills implementing additional bans on virtually all handheld device usage, measures that Gov. Charlie Baker supports. However, the Senate version would require law enforcement to track demographic data for all traffic stops while the House version would only monitor stops that end in a citation issued.
The Senate bill also requires drivers to take a class after a second offense of the new provision and categorizes third and subsequent violations as surchargeable offenses for insurance, both points that the House did not include.
The Conference Committee could not reach an agreement before the Legislature began it's August recess.
Montigny however, is not giving up. it's like the Legislature will return to Beacon Hill in September when its recess is over. "It's not dead and I still believe it will get done this session. Distracted driving is killing people."
Information from the State House News Service was used in this report.