SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Police Department will be extra vigilant during the month of April in regards of distracting driving.

The month of April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council. Because of this, Springfield Police are dedicating time to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. They are working to ensure the safety of everyone on the road including bicycles, other drivers and pedestrians.

About 3,142 people died in distracted driving crashes in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This was an increase from 2019 which had about 3,119 deaths.

In order to ensure the safety of everyone, the Springfield Police Department will be placing more enforcement throughout this month to crack down on distracted driving.

“Distracted Driving Month and our local enforcement efforts are important initiatives to help raise awareness 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.”

In Massachusetts, it is illegal to write, send, or read a message while driving. In addition, looking through apps or the internet is also illegal, even if you are stopped at a red light or in traffic. The only acceptable way to use your phone is by a hands-free feature including Bluetooth, “single-tap or swipe”, a GPS feature if it is mounted to the car dash, or in emergency situations.

It is important to note that if the driver is under the age of 18, the use of a phone or electronic device is prohibited while driving.

Fines for Texting and Driving

  • First offense: $100
  • Second offense: $250
  • Third or higher offense: $500 plus insurance charges

Though texting and driving is the most talked about form of distracted driving, the NHTSA stated that eating and drinking, talking to people in the car, and playing with the radio and GPS systems are all forms of distracted driving.

When operating a vehicle, drivers should:

  • Turn off your phone or electronic device and put it away before driving
  • Be a role model for younger drivers
  • Talk to younger drivers about safe driving
  • Always wear a seatbelt
  • Stay alert for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Say something if you are in the car with a driver who is on their phone