If you’re stopped at a red light, is it legal in Massachusetts to read or send a text? If your answer is “no,” you are correct. As of Feb. 23, 2021, drivers can face fines of $500 for using a mobile device with their hands, even if when stopped at a red light.
The state has adopted a new law that means drivers can only use their mobile device if it’s “hands-free.” The law is designed to make the roads safer for everyone, as distracted driving is one of the top causes of car accidents.
Here are five tips every driver should follow to abide by the hands-free law in Massachusetts:
- Keep your hands off your phone when driving: You are not allowed to touch your mobile device for texting, emailing, opening apps, checking out videos, or using the internet. The law states you can’t touch the phone except to activate hands-free mode, and you can only enable the device when it is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a way that does not interfere with driving.
- GPS navigation: You can activate your GPS if the device is installed or properly mounted.
- Red lights and stop signs: The law prohibits drivers from using handheld devices when the car is stopped at a traffic light or stop sign.
- Voice to text: Speaking out loud to send a text message is allowed if the device is properly mounted. You also can use a headphone in one ear.
- Drivers under 18: Use of a phone while driving is prohibited. Even hands-free devices are off-limits for drivers younger than 18.
What are the penalties for violating the hands-free law?
If you get pulled over and ticketed for the first time, you will face a $100 fine. For a second offense, you face a $250 fine on top of a mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program. The third and subsequent offenses carry a $500 fine in addition to an insurance surcharge and mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program.
What if I’m in a car accident with a distracted driver?
Despite the strict hands-free driving law in Massachusetts, some drivers make poor decisions that put everyone at risk. A driver might think it’s not a big deal to take his or her hand off the wheel for a moment to check a text message, but motor vehicle accidents often happen as a result of a driver not paying attention – even if it’s just for a split second.
If you or a loved one is injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, you may need to take time off from work to recover. Medical bills and other accident-related expenses can quickly pile up. Depending on the nature of your injury, you may have to give up hobbies you once enjoyed.
How an attorney can help
An injury claim involving a distracted driver can quickly become quite complicated. The insurer representing the at-fault driver might say your injuries are not that serious. The driver that’s to blame for your injuries might deny being on his or her cellphone at the time of the crash. Or you may hear from an insurance adjuster who says fighting for more compensation is not worth your time.
Tell them you mean business. Contact an experienced lawyer who can fight for you while you focus on recovering. Contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone for a free consultation. Our attorneys know how to maximize compensation for accident victims.