The Patrick administration today said it is studying legislation that would make it illegal to drive while texting and that would ban teenagers from using cellphones while behind the wheel.
“The governor has been supportive of efforts to make our roads safer and looks forward to reviewing the bill,'' Juan Martinez, Patrick's spokesman, said in an e-mail statement.
Earlier today, the Senate unanimously passed the bill, the last legislative action needed before Patrick can sign – or veto – the measure that supporters call a "safe driving bill.''
The House gave its approval earlier this week on a 150-1 vote.
“Everyone knows cellphones are a distraction and that texting while driving is especially dangerous,” Senate President Therese Murray said in a statement. “I hope this legislation will dissuade people from putting themselves and others at risk.”
According to Murray's office, the ban on texting while driving applies to all drivers. A violation would not lead to an insurance surcharge, but police would be authorized to stop someone they see texting while driving.
Junior operators – a driver under the age of 18 – are banned from the use of cellphones, including the hands-free version. A first offense would be a 60-day license suspension.
The measure would also shield health care providers from liability if they report a patient they consider a risky driver to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
It would also require anyone 75 or older to renew their licenses in person and to take an eye exam every five years.
"We took a comprehensive approach to making our roadways safer by trying to take the distractions out … to focus people on driving as opposed to other things that distract them,'' said Senator Steven A. Baddour, Senate chair of the Transportation Committee.
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