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Mass. may ban cell phone use for drivers, car insurance premiums could drop

State lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering several proposals to ban the use of cell phones by some drivers, following in the steps of other states that have abolished cell phones for junior operators and texting for all drivers.

Insurance companies and safety advocates support the measures as a way to reduce distraction by drivers, potentially cutting down on accidents and injuries, which could lower health costs and car insurance premiums.

In testimony at the state house in Boston recently, a representative for the American Insurance Association (AIA) said the group supports several proposed laws that would prohibit texting, require the use of an earpiece or speakerphone for cell phones and banning the use of cell phones by drivers under the age of 18.

"These are commonsense safety measures. Driving requires constant and undivided attention," said John Murphy, AIA Northeast region vice president.

Massachusetts has been moving toward banning text messaging behind the wheel since a trolley driver on the Boston subway system crashed into another trolley while sending text messages, resulting in dozens of injuries.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging while driving. So far, five states prohibit all drivers from talking on handsets while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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