This past Sunday, a new law went into effect regarding the use of handheld cellphones while driving. The prohibition of texting or using a handheld phone while driving was already the law in Massachusetts for drivers under 18. However, the new law strictly prohibits all adults from using a cellphone in your hand, or even cradling it between your head and shoulder.
Read more about the law: Massachusetts Hands-Free Law
What’s Allowed Under the New Law?
Utilizing options such as Bluetooth, an Apple Watch, a mounted device utilizing the speakerphone or even a passenger holding the cellphone to your ear are allowed. If both hands are free to operate the vehicle, then you’re in compliance with the law. The law provides an exception for emergencies such as seeing an accident occur, or a house being on fire. If your cellphone needs to be held in a non-emergency situation, then you must pull over to a safe area like a breakdown lane and do not block traffic.
Using a single tap or swipe to answer a call, as well as to decline or make a call is allowed, as long as its hands free. It is best practice to set your phone to automatically answer on speaker or to place a call or text via a voice command. The use of headphones and earbuds are prohibited.
Navigation aids such as Waze and Google Maps are fine as long as it is engaged before driving. The phone must be mounted to the windshield, dashboard or center console. If you need to change directions while driving, then you need to use the apps’ voice command feature. The same goes for music apps, as you cannot use your hands to switch songs while driving. So, if there is a voice command, use it.
What Isn’t Allowed Under the New Law?
Holding a phone at a stop sign, traffic light, train crossing or even an open drawbridge with a slow boat passing through is prohibited while you are in a travel lane. This even includes driving your vehicle while looking for a parking spot in a lot, as the lot is considered a public way.
What’s Still Unclear?
The gray area is the use of a car’s built-in console apps. Rules of negligence apply when a driver is distracted while using an auto app. This will eventually have to be addressed between auto manufacturers and the state or federal government.
What Are the Penalties?
From now until the end of March, law enforcement officials will issue warnings. After that the first violation will be $100, a second violation is $250 and a third and more is $500!
For the safety of all, and in compliance with the new law, please use your hands-free technology.
Call the Expert Today.
With over thirty-four years in personal injury law, I have represented many clients who have been injured in car accidents. I don’t get paid until I obtain a successful result. For a free consultation, call The Law Offices of John G. Angelo at (508) 675-7600.
Have you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, call Attorney John G. Angelo for a free consultation at (508) 675-7600.