A law has been passed in Massachusetts this past Friday which seeks to end the ‘rudeness and distractions’ created by people who excessively use their phones in public. The new law, which was signed by state governor Deval Patrick, will impose a fine of to $200 dollars for cell phone use in public locations such as restaurants, movie theaters, and schools.
The law was voted into place by the Massachusetts state representatives after numerous complaints by the public about noise pollution in public areas, acts of violence, and the general ‘distracted nature’ that comes from a person who is using their phone and not paying attention to their surroundings.
Part of the law was introduced in 2009, when the state made it illegal to text while driving. In 2011, the state created an addendum that stated it was also illegal to talk on the phone while driving, unless you were using a hands-free device.
“We knew that using the phone while driving was creating distractions and accidents,” said Governor Patrick. “Sadly, accidents aren’t just happening while driving. We’ve had reports of everything from people falling into open manholes to getting hit by cars to getting into fights after one person runs into another, all because these folks were too distracted by their call to notice their surroundings. These are the reasons we’ve created this new law.”
People who work in the restaurant industry and other fields of luxury reportedly couldn’t be happier with the new law.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how much it sucks to have to take an order from somebody who can’t even look you in the face because they are too busy chatting on their phones,” said Christine Mosier, a waitress at a Boston-area Ruby Tuesday restaurant. “First they come in talking, and they are always too busy on their phones to even place an order, then they yell because service takes too long. On top of that, I get complaints from one table saying that a nearby patron is speaking too loudly, and then ironically, that other patron will say the same about them. Just leave your phones in your car or your pocket and enjoy your meal for crying out loud.”
The state government has worked closely will all cell phone carriers to help impose the fines.
“Unlike a normal law where we’d arrest you or give you a ticket, these fines can be imposed by an officer and charged directly to your carrier. This way, if you refuse to pay your fines, your phone will be shut off due to the non-payment,” said Patrick. “In this way, we can force repeat offenders to think twice before breaking the law – or else they won’t have any way to break it in the first place.”
Several states are watching Massachusetts closely to see how the new law plays out. New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut are also considering enacting similar laws that would keep their streets ‘clean of the noise’ of flagrant cell phone users.
The new law was signed into order on Friday. It goes into effect on October 1st, 2014.