• Families Break Silence Before Holiday Season

    By TextLess Live More | Posted Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

Urge MA Legislature to Show Courage; Seek Compromise on Hands-Free

Advocates note 144 days since Hands Free passed in both Houses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Safe Roads Alliance, TextLess Live More and Families of Victims Break Silence before Holiday Season

Urge Legislature to show courage; seek compromise on Hands-Free

Massachusetts State House – October 29 – One month and three days after holding a joint press conference at the State House (September 26), Safe Roads Alliance, TextLess Live More, and families of victims killed by Distracted Driving break silence before the busy holiday season. They call upon House and Senate leaders to enact a Hands-Free Distracted Driving prevention law that will save lives and prevent catastrophic injuries in the Commonwealth.

“Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are approaching – the busiest travel season of the year – and legislative action has gone stone cold on Hands-Free. We have waited a month since our last press conference. Where is the bill? says Emily Stein, President of Safe Roads Alliance. Stein notes the House passed its version of Hands Free on May 15, and the Senate followed suite on June 6. “The House voted overwhelmingly in support of Hands-Free 155-2. The Senate vote was unanimous: 40-0. In legislative parlance, support for Hands-Free is a slam dunk.”

Stein adds, “A full 144 days have passed since then, and yet somehow the senior leadership has been unable to send a final version of this bill, which 195 of our legislators voted in favor of, to the Governor’s desk for his signature.”

“Since 2007, our family has been working diligently to enact a Hands-Free bill in Massachusetts after the death of my son Jordan, who was distracted while driving. I will never give up the fight in memory of my beloved son. It is time to resolve this issue without any further delays or disagreement. The time has come for celebration and not continued agony for those who live this every day.” — Jerry Cibley, a safe driving advocate.

NHTSA reported that 39 people died on Massachusetts roads in 2018 as a result of distracted driving. People who text, talk, film, snap, stream, scroll, chat, like and share on a hand-held phone while operating a vehicle are a threat to everyone’s safety. Thirty-nine families in mourning. Thirty-nine people lost to something meaningless, fleeting, selfish, ignorant and 100% preventable.

“If the Legislature had submitted a final bill to the Governor four months ago, we could have saved over 13 lives, based on NHTSA average data. Every one of those people had families, friends and loved ones who grieve for them,” says Tom Brannelly, whose daughter Katie was killed by a texting driver.

According to the Department of Transportation IMPACT data, 2,074 people were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2018 in Massachusetts alone. “As survivors of distracted driving crashes, we often have injuries that impact quality of life and face enormous medical bills and other debilitating effects resulting from these crashes,” says Jillian Kaplan, a survivor of a distracted driving crash. “All crashes caused by distracted driving are 100% preventable.”

Rich Levitan, President of TextLess Live More, urges Leadership to find the answer to this distracted driving epidemic by taking phones out of people’s hands while driving. “Distracted driving crashes are not accidents – they’re tragic, preventableresults of inadequate planning, policy and unsafe behavior behind-the-wheel.”

Stein, Levitan, Cibley, Brannelly and Kaplan stress that what advocates want is for the Massachusetts legislature to join all the other New England states by passing a strong and workable Hands Free law.

Advocates ask that the Legislature demonstrate that they are committed to sensible action and compromise today.

On Sunday, November 17, The Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition is holding the annual vigil to remember those who have been injured or lost to traffic violence, and to demand safe streets for everyone in Massachusetts communities.

“We hope to recognize and celebrate the passage of our Hands Free law on November 17,” Stein says. “We implore our legislators: Don’t let our loved ones’ deaths be in vain. And don’t let inability to compromise lead to further senseless loss of life on the Commonwealth’s roadways.”

Stein concludes, “We are calling upon the Massachusetts House and Senate to honor those who have died in senseless and preventable crashes by passing, once and for all, a Hands-Free law that we can all live with.”

CONTACT:

Emily Stein – Safe Roads Alliance – 617.830.2690 – [email protected]

TextLess Live More – 617.571.7823 – [email protected]

Jerry Cibley – Safe Driving Advocate – 617.828.3636 – [email protected]