Safe Driving Law Summary
The Safe Driving Law becomes effective in Massachusetts on September 30, 2010. The law creates a series of new violations, which the RMV Division, MassDOT IT staff and the Merit Rating Board are working to program and implement. These new violations include:
1. Ch 90/8M- Use of a Mobile Phone or Mobile Electronic Device by a Junior Operator – Civil Offense – No Surcharge (Mobile electronic device includes mobile telephone, text messaging device, paging device, PDA, laptop computer, electronic equipment capable of playing video games or video disks or can take/transmit digital photographs or can receive a television broadcast. Mobile electronic device does not include any equipment permanently or temporarily installed to provide navigation, emergency assistance or rear seat video entertainment. Reporting an emergency is the only exception. Drivers are encouraged to pull over and stop the vehicle to report the emergency.)
2. Use of a Mobile Phone by a Public Transport Motor Vehicle – Operator – Civil Offense – No insurance surcharge
3. Use of a Mobile Phone by a Public Transport Non-Motor Vehicle – Operator Civil Offense-No insurance surcharge (MBTA Trolley)
4. Improper Use of a Mobile Phone by Operators 18 and Over – Civil Offense – No insurance surcharge – (One hand must be on the steering wheel at all times and no use of device can interfere with driving)
5. Sending/Reading Text Messages – Civil Offense – No insurance surcharge
(Operators cannot use any mobile telephone or handheld device capable of accessing the Internet to write, send, or read an electronic message including text messages, emails, and instant messages or to access the Internet while operating a vehicle. Law applies even if the vehicle is stopped in traffic.)
6. Negligent Operation & Injury from Mobile Phone Use – Criminal Offense – Insurance surcharge
For the purposes of this chapter, “mobile telephone” shall not include amateur radios operated by those licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to operate such radios, or citizen band radios.
The law repeals the current suspension for 5-surchargeable incidents in a 3-year period and replaces it with a new suspension for 3 surchargeable incidents in 2 years. Violations with an incident date on or after 9/30/2010 can be factored into the new suspension calculation. However, older violations will still be considered a basis for operators that accrue 7 surchargeable incidents. Similar to the current suspension process for 5 surchargeable incidents, operators will have 90 days from the suspension notice to complete a National Safety Council course to avoid going into suspension.
EXAMPLE: An operator receives a citation on October 1, 2010 and is cited for 3 offenses on the ticket: speeding, failure to yield, and a marked lane violation. Under the new law, this driver will receive a notice that they must complete the NSC course in 90 days or have his/her license suspended until completion of the class.
Elder Driving Provisions
License applicants, either for initial licensure in Massachusetts or license renewal, age 75 and older must conduct the transaction in a RMV office. Use of the Internet for license renewals will no longer be allowed for these applicants. All applicants, regardless of age, that obtain or renew a license in a branch office are required to undergo the RMV vision test that is given to all drivers or provide a vision screening certificate from an appropriate health care provider to complete the transaction.
Medical Fitness Reporting
Health care providers and law enforcement may report operators they believe are not physically or mentally capable of safely operating a vehicle due to cognitive of functional impairment
The RMV must promulgate regulations based on recommendations from the RMV Medical Advisory Board designating cognitive or functional impairments likely to affect an individual’s ability to operate.