AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – UMass Amherst Police are reminding drivers and pedestrians to be aware of the rules of the road as more students are outside during spring weather.

The UMass Amherst Police Department posted on Facebook encouraging everyone to pay attention while on campus. The following tips were provided:

  • Pedestrians need to put their phones down and be alert as they approach crosswalks and busy areas of campus.
  • Look both ways at crosswalks and make sure vehicles are stopping, don’t assume anything.
  • Motor vehicle operators need to be sure they are not distracted by any devices (it is the law!).
  • There are far too many pedestrians on campus to be distracted even for a few seconds.

The Massachusetts Hands-free law went into effect in 2020 that prohibits drivers from touching their phone while driving even while at a red light or stop sign. Drivers under 18 cannot use a phone in any capacity while driving, unless for calling 911.

Fines include $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second, and $500 for every violation after.

Drivers are only allowed to make a single tap or swipe to activate a device’s hands-free mode, but some are still skeptical.

Hands-Free Law

What are the new hands-free driving rules?

Drivers who are 18 and over:

  • Can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode
  • Are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode
  • Are 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
  • Are 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, 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