WMass lawmaker leads the push to ban cellphone use while driving

60% of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — Texting while driving is already illegal in Massachusetts, but one state lawmaker told 22News it’s a difficult law to enforce because people can still make phone calls in the car.

The warm weather, and low gas prices are encouraging many more Americans to get in the car, and drive to their summer destinations. The summer is also a time when there’s a spike in fatal teen car crashes, and according to AAA – sixty-percent of those accidents involve distractions behind the wheel.

That’s why Chicopee state Representative Joe Wagner wants to ban the use of a cellphone in the car, unless hands-free technology is used. He said, “I think we need to enact that into law. It is the only way to effectively enforce the ban on texting, which exists now under law.”

Police officers have long complained that the texting ban in unenforceable so long as drivers can still hold their cellphones in the car.

Holyoke State Representative Aaron Vega told 22News, “I think we need to make sure we have a balance so that we don’t become a nanny state, and start dictating what everybody does, but also recognize that far too often the person who is maybe on the phone or distracted driving doesn’t get hurt, but hurts somebody else.”

Distracted driving, whether it’s eating, texting or even dancing to music while behind the wheel, has proven to be dangerous — and deadly. About one-thousand people are killed each year in crashes involving teen drivers during what AAA calls the “100 Deadliest Days” to be on the road. It begins on Memorial Day, when teens kick-off summer break.

“I hope that it doesn’t take something horrific before we move this forward,” said Rep. Wagner.

The state Senate passed a distracted driving bill in January. The House has yet to take it up.

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