Last week, while a state bill sat in limbo on Beacon Hill, Marblehead passed a bylaw that would allow police to fine drivers sending or reading an electronic message from a phone. Boston, Lowell and Quincy passed home rule petitions for a similar ban, which await legislative approval.

Last month, New Bedford officials passed an ordinance banning texting while driving, a $100 violation for a first offense.

“A ban on texting is just plain, old-fashioned common sense,” said Mayor Scott Lang of New Bedford.


The House and Senate passed texting bans this year, but the bills are stuck in conference committee, awaiting a consensus.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was critical of state lawmakers when speaking on the issue at MIT last week. Oprah Winfrey included a Boston rally via satellite during a recent show dedicated in part to distracted driving legislation.

“We were hoping ... that we were sending a message to legislators that we on the local level consider it a serious issue,” said Kevin Coughlin, president of the Quincy City Council.

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