State lawmakers looking to file amendment outlawing video chats, content creating while driving

BOSTON — New Tuesday, a push to beef up the state’s relatively new distracted driving law speeds ahead.

Boston 25 News learned of a soon-to-be filed amendment that would outlaw video conversations or content creating while driving.

In November 2019, a new hands-free bill became law – it meant steep fines for holding devices while driving – then the pandemic hit, and many stopped driving altogether. With traffic back, distracted driving is too.

A new amendment crafted by Massachusetts State Senator Jo Comerford and others follows the death of a cyclist in an incident where distracted driving is alleged.

“Specifically, it will indicate that no operator of a motor vehicle shall report or broadcast video of themselves on a mobile electronic device,” Comerford said.

With the bill language unavailable, Boston 25 News asked Comerford about the civil rights implications of such a ban. She says that’s still being examined to avoid unintended consequences.

“We don’t want to curtain personal rights or physical safety,” Comerford said.

Jillian Kaplan is still recovering from a brain injury, among others, after a distracted driver hit her in 2016. A phone wasn’t involved, but she says the device is causing most of the distractions each day.

“I’ve had people get on Zoom calls while they are driving with me, and I can’t even look because it is so incredibly upsetting to me,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan told Boston 25 News if the amendment passes, it’ll tighten a loophole in the law while continuing to raise awareness to change the tendency to drive while distracted.

Comerford says she’s working with advocacy groups and the ACLU and expects the bill to be filed by mid-week.

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