With the new Massachusetts distracted driving law taking effect February 23, AAA Northeast is working to help drivers prepare to make the transition to hands-free cell phone use—joining state officials and advocates today to host an informational event publicizing the law, and demonstrating hands-free vehicle technology options. The theme of the event: “Love Your Fellow Road User: Don’t Drive Distracted,” coincided with Valentine’s Day to promote courtesy and respect behind the wheel for all road users.
The distracted driving law prohibits holding any electronic device while driving, permits just one touch to activate or deactivate a call, and requires any device to be properly mounted on the windshield, dashboard, or center console. While many new cars facilitate easy hands-free communication, not all vehicles are created equal when it comes to adapting. The average vehicle on the road today is 11.8 years old, so many motorists will be compelled to purchase and install new hands-free technologies ranging from Bluetooth to car mounts to comply with the new law. The AAA event, held at the Rockland AAA branch, featured four traffic safety experts using four different vehicles to demonstrate hands-free technology options.
“This new law has the power to save lives—by putting our focus as drivers back on the road—and on all road users: pedestrians, cyclists, fellow motorists and emergency responders,” said John Galvin, President and CEO of AAA Northeast, who spoke at the event, joined by Massachusetts State Police Colonel Christopher Mason, State Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver, Acting Registrar Jamey Tesler, Highway Safety Director Jeff Larason, Falmouth Police Chief Edward Dunne, Representative Paul Donato, and hands-free cell phone advocate Jerry Cibley.
“The law takes effect in less than 10 days,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs at AAA Northeast. “We urge drivers to prepare now, to install and familiarize themselves with any new tools before February 23rd. It takes some practice to successfully command a device with voice recognition technology, so get into the habit now. And remember, hands-free driving isn’t risk-free. The conversation itself, even when hands-free, remains a potent distraction.”