Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) has been battling for years to win approval for a hands-free cell phone bill, and his persistence may finally pay off.

The Senate is expected to vote to approve Montigny's bill next week and there is reason to believe the measure could be adopted by the House as well. This is Montigny's third attempt in four years to pass this worthy legislation.

Like many of you, I have survived close encounters with unscrupulous drivers so distracted by their phone chatter or text messaging that they are barely cognizant of the fact that they are operating a motor vehicle.

A woman who had been riding my butt all the way down Acushnet Avenue in her giant SUV yesterday almost wound up in my trunk before she realized I had signaled and was slowing down to make a left-hand turn. As she sped past me on the right, honking her horn and flipping me the bird as though I had done something wrong, I couldn't help but notice the cell phone that was pressed against her right ear.

New Law Seeks to Crack Down on Distracted New York Drivers
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How many times have you been stranded at a green light by someone who needs to complete a text or change the song on Spotify? Or perhaps you've watched the vehicle in front of you on the highway swerve from lane to lane, and as you pass you see the driver, head down, reading or writing messages

The State House News Service says, "the bill would prohibit anyone operating a vehicle from viewing video content and touching or holding a mobile electronic device, except to perform a single tap or swipe to activate or deactivate hands-free mode or a navigation device."

Fines would start at $100 for a first offense and escalate to $250 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense. Subsequent violations would be considered surchargeable offenses for the purpose of calculating insurance costs.

Massachusetts would become the 17th state to ban hand-held cell phone use behind the wheel if Montigny's bill is enacted. Let's do it.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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