Massachusetts lawmakers working on final hands-free driving bill

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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The debate over a hands free cellphone bill continues.

There are two versions of the hands-free cellphone bill, one that the Massachusetts House has approved, and one that the Senate has approved.

Now, six lawmakers from both chambers are working on negotiating a final bill.

One man from Chicopee told 22News, he hopes this happens soon because there are too many people that text and drive.

“There’s so many accidents, and so many people getting aggravated over things like that,” said Egieio Costas. “It’s incredible.”

Both bills are similar, allowing drivers only a single swipe or touch to activate hands-free mode. Both bills also require data collection to track racial bias.

But, one major difference, the House bill only tracks stops that result in a ticket. The Senate bill would track all stops, regardless of the outcome.

The Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, Rep. William Straus, said this is an easy difference to over come, and this is the closest the two chambers have ever been to passing a hands-free bill.

Current state law only bans texting while driving, but Chicopee Police Officer Mike Wilk told 22News, it can be challenging to prove if a person is texting or dialing.

“We do conduct educational operations where officers stand at intersections and look for texting,” explained Wilk. “Our goal is to make sure people operate safely.”

One Springfield mother told 22News, she see people on the phone all the time.

“It’s not safe. especially when they have children in the car,” said Michelle Roman.

If a hands-free bill is passed, fines would start at $100. Governor Charlie Baker has said this issue is a top priority for him.

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