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Mass. Moves Closer To Ban On Texting While Driving

Massachusetts House and Senate negotiators are unveiling a final version of a bill aimed at clamping down on distracted drivers.

The bill released Tuesday would ban all drivers, including police, from sending text messages while behind the wheel. Violators would face a $100 fine for a first offense.

"Texting has become the norm in our society and what we need to do is begin to break that habit when people get behind the wheel," said Sen. Steven Baddour, D-Methuen, chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation.

The bill would also ban drivers under 18 from using cell phones. Those who do would face a fine and license suspension. Drivers over 18 would still be able to use cell phones.

Those 75 or over would have to get eye tests before renewing their driver's licenses every five years.

"We struck that balance in understanding the need for elderly drivers to be able to get behind a wheel," Baddour said, "but we also made sure that they do so in a safe way."

The bill also requires the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to come up with a list of impairments that could help determine a driver's skills.

Lawmakers must approve the bill before sending it to Gov. Deval Patrick.

This program aired on June 22, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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