Massachusetts Senate Budget Bans Texting while Driving

May 26, 2009

The Massachusetts Senate approved an amendment banning all Internet use while driving as part of its version of the state’s upcoming budget.

Drivers would be banned from sending text messages, e-mailing or reading the Internet while behind the wheel under the terms of the budget approved late Thursday night.

Senators stopped short of requiring handsfree devices for talking on a cell phone.

Bus, train, trolley and other public transit drivers would be banned from even holding a cell phone while driving. They could only carry one for emergency purposes.

Drivers would face a $75 fine and an insurance surcharge for violations. Transit drivers would face a $500 fine.

“We have a whole generation of drivers who think it’s OK to text while driving. This is designed to send a message that it’s not,” said Sen. Steven Baddour, D-Methuen, co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation and a co-sponsor of the amendment.

The amendment passed a day after an 18-year-old Central Catholic senior from Methuen was killed in a single-car accident as she drove to her high school for pre-graduation festivities. Police are investigating whether Rebecca Solomon was texting at the time.

The move also follows an MBTA Green Line accident in which a driver crashed his trolley into another, allegedly while sending a text message to his girlfriend.

The $27.35 billion budget now moves to a House-Senate conference committee.

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