How Will The Hands-Free Law Affect Teen Drivers? 

Not an April Fool -- Hands Free Law goes into effect on April 1st

How+Will+The+Hands-Free+Law+Affect+Teen+Drivers%3F%C2%A0

Photo courtesy of Jenna Fisher/Patch

Aidan Morley, Staff Writer

With the new Hands-Free Law enacted back in February, Massachusetts drivers are no longer allowed to have any contact with mobile devices while driving. But how will this law affect teen drivers, in particular?

The law essentially works like this: if a police officer catches you on your phone, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100-$500 in fines. According to Governor Baker, the police will issue warnings for first offenses through March 31st and will begin full enforcement on April 1st. However, there have already been over 700 reported citations given out in the first few weeks of the law. 

Hands-Free expands the previous 2010 ban on texting and driving to now include all contact with phones with variations depending on your age. 18-year-olds and above will only be allowed to have contact with their phone if it is mounted on a windshield or dashboard, so the road is still visible. For the majority of high school drivers who are under 18, it is completely illegal to use your phone or another mobile device behind the wheel. This includes using mobile GPS features without another passenger in the car. Dialing 9-1-1 is allowed, but drivers should pull over safely if it is accessible to do so. It is important to note that this is not much different from the current laws governing junior operators–the new law is just bringing forth stiffer penalties if you are caught. 

Although it may seem inconvenient to drivers, the effects of distracted driving on crashes is by no means surprising. From 2014 to 2018, Baystate drivers were involved in 16,500 crashes as a result of distracted driving by the use of an electronic device. This compares to only 300 crashes when using the handsfree mode, per data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. 

Governor Baker hopes the new law will be enough to deter distracted driving in order to achieve the ultimate goal: safer driving on Massachusetts roads.