BOSTON —Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) is speaking out about the standstill among state lawmakers on his hands-free driving legislation, an initiative the Senator has been pushing for years.

Montigny issued the following statement regarding the impasse on his hands free legislation:

“Anyone who drives on our roadways knows how dangerous cell phones are in the hands of drivers.  In the past, we assumed that a vehicle swerving or operating erratically was due to a drunk driver.  Today, we instinctively know such driver is distracted by their phone.  In 2004 we did not have smart phones, yet we could predict the emerging problem:  texting, talking, and other mobile device use would create carnage and destruction on our roads.  I didn’t wait for smart phones or other technology to emerge and immediately offered legislation to prohibit mobile devices while driving. 

For 15 years I have aggressively pursued such legislative action to end the needless carnage on our roadways.  In 2010, the legislature narrowly rejected my amendment to the Safe Driving bill to cease handheld phone use while driving.  In recent years the Senate approved my bill on several occasions only to later die in the House.  It is painful to know we could have prevented at least some of the subsequent loss and suffering had those measures succeeded.  Instead, the only thing that has changed during this time is the list of families we’ve worked with.  While some families gave up on the legislature new families emerged to fill the void, devastated by the senseless loss of their loved one.  If we had acted judiciously some of the families advocating today on Beacon Hill may never have had to make their trip to the State House.

With Maine’s law now in effect, Massachusetts is the only New England state without a law requiring drivers to put their phones down and focus on driving safely.  Rather than lead on this issue, we have put ourselves in a position to have drivers picking up their phones as they enter our state and putting them back down as they leave.  It is unfathomable why we have allowed this problem to persist as everyone around us has demonstrated that there is a simple, commonsense solution.  It is simply embarrassing that we have failed to serve the people who have elected us as their supposed leaders.

Each day Beacon Hill drags its feet is another day we knowingly subject the public to danger.  The grieving families who have lost loved ones can no longer tolerate the excuses, and who can blame them?  The ongoing political wrangling of who is to blame does nothing to heal the pain suffered by these families and does not deliver a bill to the Governor.  This juvenile posturing and delay within the legislature must end today.  No matter what it takes, we must deliver a hands free bill to the Governor this week before more innocent lives are lost.” - Mark Montigny, SENATOR.