Massachusetts Moves Closer to Texting Ban for All Drivers

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Massachusetts is one of 19 states nationwide to enact laws forbidding school bus drivers from using cell phones while behind the wheel. Soon, all other motorists may face a similar requirement, at least when it comes to texting.

A bill unanimously passed out of the House that would ban all drivers from texting or sending any “electronic message” transmitted between mobile communication or electronic devices. This includes e-mail, text messages, instant messages or “a command or request to access an internet [sic] site or any message that includes a keystroke entry between mobile electronic devices.”

The bill, which heads to the Senate, includes one provision to ban all cell phone usage for 16- and 17-year-old drivers and another to require drivers 75 and older to apply in person at the Registry of Motor Vehicles and pass a vision test every five years instead of the current 10 years.

Meanwhile, school bus drivers have been prohibited from all cell phone use while behind the wheel since Jan. 12, 2001. The regulation states that “no person shall operate a moving school bus while using a mobile telephone except in the case of an emergency,” said Judith Dupille, the assistant director of vehicle safety and compliance services at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Although the school bus driver cell phone ban does not mention anything specifically about texting, Dupille added that the practice is included in enforcement. Two-way radios are exempt.