SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Springfield Police are reminding drivers of the Massachusetts Hands-Free Law.

Springfield Police will have additional officers enforcing the Hands-Free Law on roadways throughout the month of April. The department is hoping to raise awareness about the importance of paying attention to the road and your surroundings when driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 3,522 people were killed in distracted driving incidents in 2021, compared to 3,142 in 2020 and 3,119 in 2019. The NHTSA recommends the following safety tips when driving:

  • Need to send a text? Pull over and park your car in a safe location.
  • Designate your passenger as your “designated texter” to respond to calls or messages.
  • Do not scroll through apps while driving. Struggling not to text and drive? Put the cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

“Just about everywhere you look on the roads you see drivers with a phone in their hands. This far too often leads to everything from fender-benders to fatal crashes. Our local enforcement efforts during Distracted Driving Month are initiatives to both raise awareness of the law and remind Springfield’s drivers of the importance of driving safely,” Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood said. “Doing anything other than focusing on driving puts you, your passengers and everyone else on the road in danger.”

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno states, “Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and I want to help raise awareness for everyone to drive safe and not drive distracted not only during Distracted Driving Month but every day. Unfortunately, it appears that the number of accidents involving distracted drivers has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. To address this growing concern, our brave and dedicated men and women of the Springfield Police Department will continue to work diligently with their proactive measures and initiatives to help raise awareness and educate drivers to try and keep everyone safe.”

The NHTSA says drivers can expect police across the country to increase enforcement on roadways between April 3 through April 10 as part of a national campaign called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

Hands-Free Law in Massachusetts

Drivers are not allowed to write, send or read messages or use apps while driving, including at a stop light or in traffic. Drivers are allowed to use Bluetooth or use a single tap to activate hands-free mode on their devices. Drivers can only use their phone when they are pulled over to the side of the road or in a parked location, not in traffic.

Drivers under the age of 18 in Massachusetts are not allowed to use their mobile phone while driving under any circumstances. Anyone found violating the law can be fined $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and a $500 charge for the third offense and beyond.