• Hands-Free Advocates Push Compromise

    By Marie McGrath | Posted Monday, September 30th, 2019

Families and survivors of distracted driving urge MA Lawmakers to advance Hands Free Bill

Ask Leaders in House & Senate to Break Stalemate Over Racial Profiling Language

Families and survivors affected by distracted driving gathered at the Massachusetts State House on Thursday, September 26 to urge MA Legislators to break the stalemate over racial profiling language of a Hands Free bill languishing in Conference Committee for over 100 days.

Massachusetts is the only state in New England without a Hands-Free law in place.

In a follow-up email addressed to every member of the Massachusetts House and Senate sent Monday, September 30, Richard Levitan, President of TextLess Live More, advocates for an immediate compromise over racial profiling data collection language.

“I write to you today, over 100 days later, to ask leadership in both the House and the Senate, the members of the conference committee who were charged with finalizing the legislation on June 8, and all members of the legislature to make Massachusetts Hands Free by compromising on language on data collection and analysis.” Richard Levitan, President, TextLess Live More

Levitan, who lost his daughter Merritt to a distracted driver in 2013, proposed the following compromise solution.

“Here’s a compromise I urge you to make today: Modify the language in Section 63, subsection (e) of the hands free legislation that was agreed to in principle on July 31 by the conference committee to make the data collected available to the public, without restriction, but ONLY location, race and reason for stop.”

Should a language compromise continue to languish in Committee, Levitan joins other Hands Free Advocates to ask that Hands Free be separated out from data collection.

The Commonwealth’s inability to seek compromise and become Hands Free led the editorial section of Monday’s Boston Globe.

With the implementation of Maine’s distracted driving bill last week, Massachusetts — yes, progressive Massachusetts — became the only New England state without a hands-free driving law. That should be a source of enormous embarrassment on Beacon Hill. And if embarrassment is what it takes to get things done, well, then so be it.  – Boston Globe, Monday, September 30, 2019

From Left Standing: Richard and Anna Cheshire Levitan. The Levitans lost their daughter Merritt Levitan to a distracted driver. Seated: Jillian Kaplan, Survivor Victim, hit by a distracted driver; Jerry Cibley. Cibley lost his son Jordan Cibley to a distracted driver. Emily Stein of Safe Roads Alliance. Stein lost her father Howard Stein to a distracted driver. 

Read more about Hands-Free Massachusetts below:

The Boston Globe: Safer roads take a back seat to data drama

WGBH: Police Traffic Stop Data Is Keeping Road Safety Bill From Passing

Boston 25 News: Fed up with inaction on hands-free driving bill, advocates ramp up pressure, Groups warn against profiling data language in hands-free bill

NBC Boston: Distracted Driving Bill Activists Demand Change From Mass. Lawmakers

The Patriot Ledger: Grieving families beg lawmakers to pass distracted-driving bill

The MetroWest Daily News: Advocates say delay in hands-free bill is costing lives