SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There were nearly 65,000 crashes in Massachusetts this year so far with 3% of the drivers involved that were distracted.

The hands-free while driving law in Massachusetts took effect on February 23, 2020. The law prohibits drivers from using any electronic device in their vehicles unless the said device is in a “hands-free mode.”

According to MassDOT spokesperson Judith Reardon Riley, 75,102 citations or warnings were issued to drivers for distracted driving since 2020.

Driver Distractions in Crashes

Since January 2022, out of 64,291 total crashes in Massachusetts, there were 2,359 crashes in which the driver was distracted in Massachusetts. Of those crashes, 558 reportedly were using an electronic device illegally.

In 2021, out of 226,973 total crashes, there were 9,498 crashes in which the driver was distracted, and 2,283 reportedly were using an electronic device illegally.

In 2020, out of 180,815 total crashes, there were 8,471 crashes in which the driver was distracted, and 1,953 reportedly were using an electronic device illegally.

(MassDOT)

Penalty for violating the hands-free law:

  • 1st offense – $100 fine.
  • 2nd offense – $250 fine, plus mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program.
  • 3rd and subsequent offenses – $500 fine, plus insurance surcharge and mandatory completion of distracted driving educational program.

What does this mean for me?

Drivers who are 18 and over

  • Can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode and are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode.
  • Not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone.
  • Cannot touch phone except to activate the hands-free mode and can only enable when the device is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle.
  • Not allowed to touch device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use.
  • Activation of GPS navigation is permitted when the device is installed or properly mounted.
  • Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane or a bicycle lane, but is not allowed at red lights or stop signs.
  • Voice to text and communication to electronic devices is legal only when device is properly mounted; use of headphone (one ear) is permitted.

Drivers who are under 18

  • Are not allowed to use any electronic devices. All phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.

Operators may use a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency. If possible, safely pull over and stop before calling 911.