Lawmakers considering limiting phone use behind wheel to hands-free only

Texting while driving is illegal, talking on the phone is not


BOSTON (WWLP) –  Cell phones are involved in 1.6 million car crashes each year.

If you’re caught holding a cellphone while driving, you could get handed a $100 fine. Lawmakers are set to debate a proposal Thursday to kick distracted driving to the curb.

Texting while driving is already illegal in Massachusetts, but you can still use a phone behind the wheel–a distraction that claims 6,000 lives each year.

Lawmakers hope to bring that number down by passing a bill that would make using a hand-held phone or electronic device while driving against the law.

If passed, you can’t hold or touch a cellphone while driving expect in an emergency. If you do, you could get a fine: $100 dollars the first time you’re caught and up to $500 dollars for multiple offenses.

You can still make calls behind the wheel, but you must use hands-free mode or a Bluetooth device, like a headset.

“I think we should have done it years ago so I’m happy that the legislature is going to take it up,” State Rep. Todd Smola (R-Warren) said. “For safety purposes and the advancement of technology, I think it’s something that we need to get done.”

Lawmakers have considered this bill for several years, but failed to pass it into law. The Senate is expected to debate the proposal on Thursday.