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Governor Baker proposes ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving

Massachusetts already bans texting while driving, but advocates say motorists are still distracted when holding a phone to their ear. –Shutterstock

Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday proposed banning hand-held cellphone use while driving, a long-debated proposal that has stalled in Massachusetts even as other states in New England and around the country have adopted similar bans.

A sweeping roadway safety bill filed by Baker on Tuesday is the latest salvo in the bid to crack down on distracted driving. Under the law, motorists would instead be required to use a Bluetooth connection or other technology to talk hands-free while driving.

Previous efforts to prohibit hand-held use of phones have failed to become law several times in recent years — even though public opinion polling shows widespread support for banning hand-held phones. More than a dozen other states, including all those bordering Massachusetts, have enacted similar bans.