Handheld phone use, whether for making calls, texting, navigating, or snapping pictures for Facebook groups is illegal in Massachusetts. Anyone who drives here has seen how many people do it anyway. Officer Ken Blass has as well, and he's been doing something about it. Boston 25 News reports that the Framingham Police Department believes Blass to be the top distracted driving ticket writer not only in the department but in the entire state.
Blass has written nearly 500 tickets for distracted driving annually for the past three years. In 2015, the first year he did this, AAA Northeast named Blass its Traffic Safety Hero of the Year. He repeated this feat in 2016 and is on track to do it again this year.
"I'm not really trying to be the top ticket writer," Blass told Boston 25 News. "I have friends that drive a motorcycle, I drive a motorcycle, truck drivers, they all tell me it's one of the biggest problems they have."
Blass is a motorcycle officer himself, which gives him a great view into cars stuck in traffic on Framingham's busy Route 9, as well as the superior maneuverability to pull up next to them to have a chat about their driving habits. Usually, a chat and a warning, rather than a ticket, is all that happens, Blass says. Considering that Blass issues almost 500 distracted driving tickets a year and they are the minority of stops, Blass must have talked to thousands of Massachusetts motorists about putting their phones down.
"You're not allowed to use it in your hand. it's supposed to be attached to your dashboard or your windshield," Blass said. A vast assortment of phone mounts is available for practically any phone and location, from cheap suction cup mounts to sophisticated and strong RAM Mounts. It's still possible to be distracted from driving with your phone in a mount, but this distinction is where Massachusetts law draws the line. Naturally, you're still responsible for watching other cars and staying in your lane.
Certainly, we're no angels when it comes to obeying every single traffic law on the books at all times, and we're opposed to tickets issued for nothing more than revenue enhancement or just plain frivolously. But we always encourage safe driving and paying more attention to your phone than the road is never safe. This is one law enforcement crackdown we can truly get behind.