As of midnight tonight, Massachusetts drivers will face fines for sending or reading an electronic message or accessing the Internet while operating a vehicle. Massachusetts is among 30 states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam that have banned texting while driving.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation 90 days ago that makes it illegal for all drivers to send or read an electronic message or access the Internet while operating a vehicle even while stopped in traffic. Junior operators 16 and 17 years old also are prohibited from using a cell phone, including those with hands-free capabilities, at any time while driving.

Over the past few years, a growing number states and localities have implemented or strengthened restrictions on cell phone use and texting. Earlier this week, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America reinforced the popular sentiment that the issue of distracted driving absolutely must be addressed on multiple fronts, including:

1. Laws

2. Enforcement

3. Public education

4. Personal responsibility

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