• Hands Free Massachusetts Momentum

    By TextLess Live More | Posted Saturday, July 14th, 2018

Advocacy Groups Push for Immediate Legislation

Levitans and Families Share Personal Stories of Loss

Advocacy groups in support of Hands Free legislation and families who have lost loved ones to distracted driving gathered on the steps of the Massachusetts State House on July 11 to rally for Massachusetts to pass a Hands-Free bill within the next 20 days, before the end of the current legislative session.

“We come together today to ask, rather demand, for Hands-Free Legislation in Massachusetts because you have asked for it, because you know it will save lives. You know it will make driving safer for everyone – passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and travelers,” said Anna Cheshire Levitan, addressing the crowd of supporters and reporters. Levitan lost her daughter Merritt Levitan, a recent graduate of Milton Academy, to a distracted driver five years ago on July 3, 2013.

(Boston – MA) – Anna and Rich Levitan at the Pass Hands Free Rally on the steps of the Massachusetts State House, July 11, 2018. The Levitans lost their daughter Merritt to a distracted driver on July 3, 2013. 

The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill (S.2103) which bans the use of handheld devices while driving both in 2016 and 2017. Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker endorsed hands-free legislation in November 2017 but a similar bill has stalled in the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee.

“The facts are clear. You can’t drive looking down at intersections, on highways, on long straight country roads as long as the eye can see – like where my Merritt was struck and killed. Distracted Driving takes lives. It’s time.”  

Rich Levitan, father of Merritt Levitan, killed by a distracted driver in 2013

“Today we are calling on the House members of Leadership and Speaker DeLeo to do the right thing and pass a hands-free bill which will save lives and prevent serious injuries,” said Emily Stein, President of Safe Roads Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting safer driving.

“I am here for my dad, Howard Stein, who was killed by a driver who chose to program her GPS while driving on a highway, instead of looking at the road. Our lives have been forever changed, as we feel the gap left in his place every hour of every day,” she added.

(Boston, MA) – Emily Stein, President Safe Roads Alliance, speaks to reporters while holding a photo of her late father Howard Stein during a hands free cell phone legislation rally on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at the Massachusetts Statehouse. Boston Herald Staff Photo by Patrick Whittemore

According to a 2016 AAA Northeast poll conducted of the group’s 2.3 million Massachusetts members in 2016, drivers who text, email or use apps while driving ranks No. 1 of the top three concerns, above drunk drivers and aggressive drivers. That same poll sites the most common distraction affecting drivers today as texting, emailing or using apps while driving.

Massachusetts traffic deaths jumped 12.8 percent (from 345-389) in 2016, according to a report from Mass.gov, more than double the national rate of 5.6 percent.  Traffic safety experts point to the growing number of distracted drivers on Massachusetts roads as one of the leading factors of these spikes in fatalities. 

Today we are  calling on the House of Representatives to WAKE UP and pass a hands-free bill THIS SESSION,” adds Stein. “We cannot and WILL NOT wait another year. More people will be injured or killed on our roads while we continue to wait for our elected officials to take road safety more seriously.”

(Boston – MA)  Supporters of Hands Free Legislation protest at the Pass Hands Free in Massachusetts Rally, Massachusetts State House, July 11, 2018. Speakers from Safe Roads Alliance, TextLess Live More, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, WalkBoston, and the Winthrop Transportation Committee addressed the crowd, demanding the Massachusetts House of Representatives bring Hands-Free to a vote before July 31, 2018.

79% of Massachusetts registered voters back hands-free, with the exception of emergencies, according to a poll from MassINC Polling Group, conducted for the Barr Foundation.

If the Massachusetts House fails to bring a Hands Free bill up for a vote before July 31, the end of the current legislative session, a Hands Free bill will have to wait until the 2019 session for potential vote and passing, despite the will of the majority of Massachusetts voters.

 

 5 EASY STEPS TO HELP PASS HANDS FREE IN MASSACHUSETTS

provided by TruMotion

Email template for Robert DeLeo

Email Speaker DeLeo

Subject: I support hands-free legislation.

Dear Representative DeLeo,

I am writing you to express my support for House Bill H.3660 to make handheld cellphone use while driving in Massachusetts illegal.

Distracted driving kills 3,450 people per year in the U.S. – over nine per day.

These daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends die needlessly. Using a phone while driving is a choice.

The costs are simply too high to continue ignoring the issue.

A cellphone ban while driving is overwhelmingly popular in MA. Over 80% of residents support it. Governor Baker has also endorsed hands-free legislation. Maine and Massachusetts are the only states in the northeast where you can use your phone while driving.

Besides being popular, these bills work.

Oregon’s handheld ban went into effect in October 2017. Since then, distracted driving has dropped 14%. Before the handheld bill, Oregon had a law against texting and driving. Just like Massachusetts.

But texting laws aren’t enough. They’re difficult to enforce. And they’re ineffective.

Texting increases your chance of crashing 600%. Dialing a phone number increases your chance of crashing 1,200%. No matter how you use your phone, it takes a full 27 seconds to focus on driving again.

There’s no time to lose. Distracted driving is higher during the summer than at any time during the year. And it’s getting worse.

H.3660 deserves to be brought to a vote now. Families lose loved ones every day we wait. You can stop future tragedies by giving the people of Massachusetts what they want – a ban on cellphones while driving.

Thank you for your time,

Name


Email Template for Your State Representative

Find your rep here

Subject: I support hands-free legislation.

Dear Representative ______,

I am writing you to express my support for House Bill H.3660 to make handheld cellphone use while driving in Massachusetts illegal.

Distracted driving kills 3,450 people per year in the U.S. – over nine per day.

These daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends die needlessly. Using a phone while driving is a choice.

The costs are simply too high to continue ignoring the issue.

A cellphone ban while driving is overwhelmingly popular in MA. Over 80% of residents support it. Governor Baker has also endorsed hands-free legislation. Maine and Massachusetts are the only states in the northeast where you can use your phone while driving.

Besides being popular, these bills work.

Oregon’s handheld ban went into effect in October 2017. Since then, distracted driving has dropped 14%. Before the handheld bill, Oregon had a law against texting and driving. Just like Massachusetts.

But texting laws aren’t enough. They’re difficult to enforce. And they’re ineffective.

Texting increases your chance of crashing 600%. Dialing a phone number increases your chance of crashing 1,200%. No matter how you use your phone, it takes a full 27 seconds to focus on driving again.

There’s no time to lose. Distracted driving is higher during the summer than at any time during the year. And it’s getting worse.

H.3660 deserves to be brought to a vote now. Families lose loved ones every day we wait. You can stop future tragedies by giving the people of Massachusetts what they want – a ban on cellphones while driving.

Please support a hands-free law, and call Speaker DeLeo today to ask him to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Thank you for your time,

Name


Phone script to Call Your State Representative

Hello, my name is ________ and I’m calling from (town) and wanted to let Representative ________ know that I support a hands-free bill in Massachusetts.

(Insert brief personal story or opinion here if you desire.)

I strongly encourage Representative _________ to contact Speaker DeLeo to voice their support for this bill.  The bill number is H.3660.

It’s time that Massachusetts has more enforceable and effective laws for distracted driving.

Thank you for your time.