Data collection sparks racial profiling debate on Beacon Hill

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – The governor’s Distracted Driving bill didn’t pass last session, but new language regarding data collecting could sway lawmakers in both the House and Senate.

A report obtained by the State House News Service shared insight on how the governor may approach the version of the distracted driving bill sent to his desk.

The underlying goal Gov. Baker and leaders in both branches have is the same, they want to ban almost all use of mobile devices behind the wheel unless they are in hands-free mode.

However, the House and Senate versions of the bill differ on several components, including whether to require police officers to log data for every single driver pulled over OR if that should only be done for traffic stops that end in citations.

Gov. Baker’s initial bill did not include any data-collection language, and his proposal received backlash due to racial profiling concerns.

Nothing has been passed yet, but public safety officials are pushing for a version of the bill that would ask officers to record what they perceive a driver’s race and ethnicity to be, whether or not that will be required for every traffic stop is still up for debate.

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