Dempsey Insurance Agency Blog

Massachusetts Has A Hands-Free Driving Law: Four Items Everyone Needs To Know

Kate Dempsey Dec 3, 2019 11:46:20 AM
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Governor Baker has signed the Hands-Free Driving Bill into law

Massachusetts finally has a hands-free driving law. Yesterday afternoon, Governor Baker signed, as expected, a bill enacted by the Legislature on November 20, 2019, entitled “An Act Requiring The Hands-Free Use Of Mobile Telephones While Driving.” The law does not have an emergency preamble so it will not take effect until Sunday, February 23, 2020, ninety days from November 25th.

Massachusetts newly enacted Hands Free Driving law amends M.G.L. c. 90, § 13B and states that, “No operator of a motor vehicle shall hold a mobile electronic device” or “use a mobile electronic device unless the device is being used in hands-free mode.” The statute defines “hands-free mode” as use without the user holding or touching the device except to initiate the hands-mode feature of the device.

The law which applies to both operators of motor vehicles and bicycles does allow “emergency” use of a hand-held device to report that:

  • The vehicle was disabled;
  • Medical attention or assistance was required;
  • Police intervention, fire department or other emergency services were necessary for the personal safety of the operator or a passenger or to otherwise ensure the safety of the public;
  • a disabled vehicle or an accident was present on a roadway.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker congratulating legislators and family members who supported the hands-free driving law banning holding cell phones while driving.

At a State House ceremony, attended by families who had lost loved ones to distracted drivers using cellphones and the legislators who pushed a comprise through to the Governor’s desk, His Excellency the Governor signed the distracted driving bill stating, “This bill is a major step in our ongoing work to keep our roads safe. We are especially grateful for the many advocates and families who passionately fought for this bill. We look forward to working with our legislative colleagues to make more progress in this area soon.”

The passage of a hands-free driving law has been a long process

There’s 1 distracted driving incident per minute
in front of MA’s State House according to True Motion

Massachusetts legislators have long sought to enact a law addressing this issue, but have sparred over various issues such as data collection included as part of the proposed bill. Last Monday, November 18th, however, a new movement to enact a law on this issue began in the House. After several compromises, a version ultimately passed the Senate and the bill was laid before the Governor late last week.

According to Cambridge-based telematics company True Motion, which has long supported such a bill, there is “…one distracted driving incident per minute in front of Massachusetts’ State House.” On July 23, 2018, the company reported in a blog post that it had sat in front of the State House, at the corner of Beacon and Park Streets every day from 8:30 to 9:30 AM for a week counting distracted drivers. “This included anyone who was using their phone texting (illegal), dialing (legal), and making handheld phone calls (legal then).” After a week’s time, the start-up said it had counted over “…300 distracted driving incidents in just 5 hours – one per minute.”

A third-offense under the New Hands-Free Driving Bill Will Result in a Surcharge

According to the terms laid out in the new Bill, a first-time violation with result in a $100 fine, a second offense will be a $250 fine, followed by a $500 fine for a third or subsequent offense. While a first or second offense is not categorized as a “surchargeable incident” under the statute, a third or subsequent office will be considered as such.

(e) A first or second offense under this section or section 8M shall not be a surchargeable 66 incident under section 113B of chapter 175 or under a motor vehicle liability policy as defined in 67 section 34A that is issued pursuant to said chapter 175; provided, however, that a third or 68 subsequent offense under this section or section 8M shall be a surchargeable incident under said 69 section 113B of said chapter 175 or under a motor vehicle liability policy as defined in said 70 section 34A that is issued pursuant to said chapter 175.

After a second or subsequent offense, operators will be required to complete an educational program on distracted driving prevention.

Short grace period for first-time offenders until March 31, 2020

Although the law will take effect on February 23, 2020, first-time violators cited from February 23, 2020 until March 31, 2020, will receive warnings. The enactment provision of the law provides, “notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, an operator of a motor vehicle shall be issued a warning for a first violation…for conduct other than the typing or reading of an electronic message occurring after the effective date of this act until March 31, 2020, inclusive.”

Other provisions included in the newly enacted law

Another major issue that has prevented earlier Hands-Free Driving Bills to pass was the issue of data collected as part of the enforcement of a potential hands-free bill. In particular, those opposed to wide data collection feared that such information could be used for purposes such as racial profiling. The Bill, however, includes various provisions dealing with the collection and storage of data as well as safeguards in which to prevent potential misuse of the information collected.

The new law also requires the Secretary of Public Safety and Security to issue an annual public report based on the data collected throughout the year.

How to access a copy of the Bill

For those interested in accessing an official copy of H.4203, which is the version that was signed into law by Governor Baker, you can do so here.

*Content borrowed from Mass. Insurance News. 

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Thanksgiving Cooking Safety Tips

Kate Dempsey Nov 26, 2019 9:46:06 AM
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On Thanksgiving Day, the kitchen is the busiest room in the home. The number one cause of residential fires is caused by unattended cooking. Enjoy the holiday while avoiding fire damage with these cooking safety tips.

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Will My Homeowners Insurance Cover a New In-Ground Pool?

Kate Dempsey Feb 19, 2019 11:35:46 AM
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If you’re having a new in-ground pool installed this spring, you’ll undoubtedly have several meetings with the pool installer. They aren’t the only person you’ll want to consult before the pool is completed, though. You should also talk with your Massachusetts insurance agent to see whether your homeowners insurance policy will cover the new pool.

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Do Massachusetts Insurers Offer Commercial Auto Insurance Discounts?

Patrick Dempsey Jul 31, 2018 5:08:15 PM
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Massachusetts insurance companies offer a number of commercial auto insurance discounts that businesses in the state might be able to take advantage of. While the exact discounts that an insurer makes available can vary, the following are fairly common.

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Do Credit Scores Affect Car Insurance Premiums in Massachusetts?

Patrick Dempsey May 16, 2018 11:38:26 AM
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Many insurance companies consider drivers’ credit scores when calculating car insurance premiums. Drivers in Massachusetts, however, don’t have to worry as much about whether their credit score will directly affect their auto policy’s premiums.

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GETTING OR RENEWING A MA DRIVER’S LICENSE, LEARNER’S PERMIT, OR MA ID CARD?

Kate Dempsey Mar 22, 2018 11:23:08 AM
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On March 26, 2018, you need documents showing U.S. citizenship or lawful presence as required by federal and state law. Review the checklist below for the types of documents you will need. All documents MUST be originals.

Get Ready:

Step 1: Locate your Social Security Number

(Choose one document for REAL ID. For a Standard ID, SSN must be verified electronically.

  • SSN Card
  • W-2 Form                                                              
  • SSA-1099 Form
  • Non-SSA-1099 Form
  • Pay stub with applicant's name and SSN

* Applications without an SSN must present an SSA denial notice, forgein passport, VISA and 1-94. Documents presented must display full nine digits of SSN.

 

Step 2: Choose one lawful presence/date of birth document

   

  • US Passport/Passport card
  • Certified copy of US birth certificate
  • Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
  • Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-561 or N570)
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240, DS-1350 or FS-545)
  • Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551)
  • Employment Authorization Card (Form I-766 or I-688B)
  • Foreign Passport with US VISA Affixed and I-94 Stamp

 

Step 3: Choose a MA residency document (2 for REAL ID, 1 for MA Standard ID)

  • MA RMV-issued documents such as a renewal letter
  • State/Federal/Municipal/City/Town/Country Agency-issued documents such as 1st class mail, MA-issued professional license with photo, Medicaid statement, firearms card, jury duty summons, court correspondence, property tax or excise tax dated within 60 days
  • Bills such as a utility bill, credit card statement or medical statements dated within 60 days
  • Lease, mortgage or rental contract dated within 60 day
  • Financial-related documents such as a blank statement with image of personal checks, W-2, pension statement, retirement statement pay stubs, SSA statement or instalment loan contract dated within 60 days
  • School-issued documents such as school transcript, proof of enrolment, tuition bill, school record for the current year

 

Get Your License/ID

  • Start application online at Mass.gov/ID
  • For renewals applicants must choose:
    • Standard license or ID card: may be able to complete online
    • REAL ID license or ID card: must visit a RMV Service Center or AAA office (if a member)
  • All first-time applicants must visit a RMV Service Center and bring appropriate documents
  • A REAL ID license/ID costs the same as a Standard license/ID

For more information visit: mass.gov/ID
Rev. 3/12/18 by MA RMV


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On The Road: Winter Driving Safety Tip

Kate Dempsey Jan 4, 2018 11:20:05 AM
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Snow makes any commute harder, but the best way to stay safe on the road while it’s snowing is to avoid driving altogether. However, if you can’t stay home until the plows have cleared the roads, we urge you to take a minute and refresh your memory with these following safety tips:

  • Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights. It’s not just good sense, it’s also safe and the law.
  • Remember to warm your car up but only do so after you've made sure the tailpipe is clear. Never leave the vehicle unattended.
  • Know the current road conditions. Tune in to current local traffic reports before leaving home.
  • Pay attention. Remember that the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
  • Leave plenty of room for stopping. Roads may be slippery, even if crews have spread salt.
  • Use brakes carefully. Break early, brake correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.
  • Watch for slippery bridge decks. Even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridge decks will ice up sooner.
  • Don’t use your cruise control in wintry conditions. Remain in control of your car — you don’t want any surprises.
  • Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle. Remember that your four-wheel drive vehicle may help you get going quicker than other vehicles but it won’t help you stop any faster!
  • Don’t pump anti-lock brakes. If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, do not pump brakes in attempting to stop. The right way is to “stomp and steer!”
  • Remember that trucks are heavier than cars. Trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them
  • Go slow!

For more on keeping safe on the road or what to do before you head out. Keep reading!!

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Protect Your Pipes From Freezing

Kate Dempsey Jan 2, 2018 1:26:08 PM
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Don't worry! This winter doesn't have to be like the last. Preparation is the key to prevention! Here are some tips for you on making sure you do everything possible so your pipes stay warm and cozy this season. 

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Now Is The Time To Protect Your Home From Ice Dams

Kate Dempsey Feb 14, 2017 8:45:19 AM
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After three winter storms in less than a week, you may be noticing some pretty large snow piles on the roof of your home. With a slight warm up in temperature coming mid-week, now is the time to remove snow in order to prevent the buildup of ice dams - and potential damage to your home.

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Get ready for FREEZING temps tonight!

Kate Dempsey Dec 15, 2016 2:45:57 PM
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The coldest temperatures so far this season are expected in New England tonight and tomorrow. With the mercury dipping well below freezing, residents should take note of the increased risk for frozen pipes. While there are long term measures you can take to prevent frozen pipes in your home, like having proper insulation and sealing any cracks or gaps in your siding or foundation, there are a few small, but helpful, things you should do during extreme cold spells.

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