Legislature puts brakes on distracted driving

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State legislators recently passed new regulations on using phones while driving.

Gov. Charlie Baker signed H.4203, known as the distracted driving bill, Monday, according to the State House News Service.

The state Senate joined the House in passing the bill last week. The law, which takes effect 90 days after the governor signed it, makes it illegal to hold or view a mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.

Using a mobile device in an emergency while operating a vehicle, a GPS, or hands-free mode is still permitted under the law.

Violating the law will result in a $100 fine for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for a third offense. After the first offense, if a driver is caught again, he will be required to complete a program selected by the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) that encourages “a change in driver behavior and attitude about distracted driving,” according to the bill.

Data will be collected by the RMV from those who violate the law, including age, race, gender, the traffic violation, the date and time of offense, and the municipality it occurred in. Data and information collected are used for statistical purposes only, and will not contain information that may reveal a person’s identity. 

The data will be published in an annual public report by the secretary of public safety and security.