Ride-along with Springfield Police: How the new hands-free driving law is being enforced

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – We’re three days into the new hands-free law in Massachusetts and 22News took a ride along with Springfield police to see how it’s being enforced. 

We found out: some drivers still have questions about how this law works. 

During the ride-along, there were definitely quite a few drivers on their phones so police are on the lookout for people breaking this law, but they’re trying to inform drivers of the new law because people are still a little confused by it. 

On a typical shift, Officer Tim Sheehan, a member of the Traffic Unit at the Springfield Police Department, is helping accident victims, checking for expired registrations, and ensuring the overall safety of drivers on the road. 

But now, he has the added responsibility of making sure no one has a cell phone in their hand while in the car – even if they are stopped at a red light. 22News took a ride with officer Sheehan and saw firsthand as he pulled over two drivers within a two-minute time span because they had their cell phones in their hands. 

“A lot of the issues that we are dealing with while we are investigating accidents are people just not paying attention,” said Officer Sheehan. 

The new law took effect on Sunday and while police are strictly enforcing it, they’re not handing out tickets just yet, only warnings. Police will begin issuing tickets on April 1. 

Officer Sheehan added, “Hopefully it stops like this when we are out trying to talk to people yeah they might get a warning but hopefully it’s going to be the thing that they are never going to do again or pass it along to a family member and say hey that cops pulled me over the other day.” 

According to Officer Sheehan, police are not only on the lookout for phones in drivers’ hands but they are also looking for any signs of distracted driving. Things like drivers looking down, not keep up with the flow of traffic, or swerving are usually telltale signs a driver is not paying attention to. 

“If we can make it a little bit safer where people are at least paying attention to when they are driving it’s going to help out a little bit and even if we only take one or two accidents in a day instead of 9 or 10 that’s got to be a step in the right direction,” said Officer Sheehan. 

The hands-free law also applies to motorcyclists and those who are riding bikes. 

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