Distracted Driving: The number of drivers ticketed in MA this year may top 2021 total

BOSTON — Police cited more than 38,000 motorists for distracted driving in the first eight months of the year amid ongoing enforcement of a 2019 law cracking down on the proliferation of cellphones in the hands of drivers, according to data published Wednesday.

Registrar of Motor Vehicles Colleen Ogilvie told the Department of Transportation’s board there were 38,233 distracted driving citations from January through August. Of those, 7,615 were for finable offenses, bringing in just a bit more than $829,000.

Massachusetts recorded more than 85 percent as many distracted driving citations in the first two-thirds of 2022 as it did in all of 2021, according to Ogilvie’s figures.

Activity surged in the spring. Police issued 12,213 citations in April, about twice as many as the second-highest monthly total of 6,123 in May, which Ogilvie said tracks with a trend over the past few years and the observance of Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April.

“Typically, the last several years, we’ve seen a spike in distracted driving citations in the month of April,” she said. “That’s typically a month that law enforcement has funding and does a campaign to get on the road and really focus on distracted driving.”

It was not immediately clear Wednesday how the new data compared to the first eight months of 2021.

The RMV previously reported a total of 44,336 distracted driving citations in all of 2021, reflecting about 7 percent of all citations issued last year.

The 2019 law, which took effect in February 2020 with fines starting in April 2020, prohibits motorists from using a phone or any other handheld electronic device while driving except for a single touch or tap to activate the hands-free mode.

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