Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday signed legislation banning texting while driving, prohibiting teen drivers from using mobile devices of any kind while on the road, and establishing procedures for doctors to report cognitively impaired motorists. The bill does not include an emergency preamble so the texting ban and other provisions won’t take effect for 90 more days.
During a press conference on the bill, Patrick’s transportation chief said police would learn to enforce the texting ban, which has been administered in 29 other states. Mr. Patrick called the bill a “step in the right direction,” but said a “full debate” on whether to eliminate all handheld cell phone use should be the next step. Asked about the potential for police to use the texting ban as a pretext for racial profiling, Mr. Patrick said his feelings on the issue are not “in the way” of his support for the new law. “As of a minute ago, or effective in October, texting while driving is against the law period,” he said. “You know I have very, very strong feelings about racial profiling, but those are not in the way and will not be in the way of the enforcement of this law… Everyone knows what a hazard this is.”
Sen. Steven Baddour, co-chairman of the Transportation Committee, joined Mr. Patrick, saying the law doesn’t take effect until October to allow the Registry of Motor Vehicles time to develop regulations. “Part of what we did today and in October when this takes effect is to send a message,” he said. “I don’t care how good you are. You can’t text and drive and do it straight.”
Yesterday, Tisbury Police Chief Dan Hanavan agreed.
“Texting is definitely a poor choice to make,” he said.