State lawmakers today will consider a hands-free requirement for cellphone use in the car, following the lead of neighboring states New York and Connecticut.
In 2010, lawmakers passed a law banning all texting while driving and all cellphone use by drivers 18 years old or younger.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation will consider the hands-free mandate during a hearing at the State House this morning.
This hearing follows a recent call from the National Transportation Safety Board that all 50 states ban the use of cellphones while driving. In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and an estimated 448,000 were injured in crashes involving driver distraction, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Police agencies have said that the lack of a cellphone ban makes it difficult to enforce the texting-while-driving law because drivers are still allowed to use their phones while behind the wheel.
Some local safe driving advocacy groups are supporting the hands-free mandate calling it a further step to reduce distracted driving.
“We are fully in support of a hands-free requirement in Massachusetts primarily because it provides police the ability to enforce the texting ban,” said Jeff Larson, from the Safe Roads Alliance. “It also takes the phone out of peoples’ hands so people will be less likely to text or do something else they shouldn’t be doing.”
The committee will also consider a ban on all cellphone use in school zones.