BOSTON – Speaking on behalf of SADD chapters across Massachusetts, Burrillville High School senior Mackenzie Raimond stood before a group government officials including Gov. Charlie Baker last week, to testify in favor of a law that would make the neighboring state hands free.
“The numbers and stats of preventable crashes – especially among my age group – compel us – all of us – to get the word out: end distracted driving,” said Raimond at an event at the Massachusetts State House, organized by advocates of the state’s hands free law. “It’s time to put our phones down while we drive.”
Raimond was chosen last May for the National Leadership Council of Students Against Destructive Decisions, one of just five students from across the country to receive the honor. A member the BHS chapter of SADD since her freshman year, Raimond has made a year long commitment to promote the organization’s vision, and to serve as a role model for students nationwide.
The Day of Action for Road Safety in Massachusetts was held on Wednesday, Jan. 23 in support of several bills that proponents say would help police make the state’s streets less dangerous. Baker himself has proposed the new set of road safety rules, which would also allow police to stop motorists for not wearing a seat belt.
Massachusetts outlawed texting while driving in 2010, but the hands-free law would take the legislation a step further, making it illegal to touch or hold your phone in the state while driving. Rhode Island’s hands free law went into effect last year.
Similarly, drivers in Massachusetts can be fined for not wearing a seatbelt, but currently, police are not allowed to pull a vehicle over for a seat belt infraction unless they have another reason to do so.
First founded as Students Against Drunk Driving in 1981, SADD expanded its mission in 1997 in response to requests from member students, and now highlights prevention of all destructive behaviors.
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 481,000 drivers are using their phones while they’re driving almost every single day and teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes,” said Raimond.
Supporters gathered for the event – including Baker – said that the legislation has a good chance of passing this year.