MassDOT reminds Massachusetts drivers to obey laws banning texting while driving and cell phone use while driving by 16 and 17 year olds, following the September 30 one-year anniversary of the Safe Driving Law.
"The Safe Driving law is an important tool for law enforcement and has created a heightened awareness that driving while texting or using a cell phone carelessly is unsafe," said MassDOT Registrar Rachel Kaprielian.
Governor Patrick signed legislation in 2010 making it illegal for all drivers to send or read an electronic message or access the Internet while operating a vehicle even while stopped in traffic. Junior operators 16 and 17 years old are also prohibited from using a cell phone, including those with hands free capabilities, at any time while driving. Teen drivers can make calls in an emergency but are urged to pull over and park first.
Under the safe driving statute, operators will be cited for using a mobile electronic device for texting or accessing the Internet. First time offenders are subject to a $100 fine. Junior operators observed using a cell phone can also be cited and subject to a $100 fine and the loss of their license for 60 days. Teen offenders will also be required to take a driver retraining course through the National Safety Council.
MassDOT Registry of Motor Vehicles has taken steps to inform drivers about the law since it took effect, including distracted driving messages posted on digital billboards, variable electronic message highway and turnpike signs; on posters and flyers for RMV branches, municipal airports, MBTA buses and trolleys, AAA of Southern New England offices, school nurses, pediatricians and injury prevention programs, along with MBTA platform announcements.
Visit www.mass.gov/rmv for a summary of the law.