The Massachusetts Senate has adopted legislation that would require drivers to put down their cellphones while behind the wheel.
Under the proposal that was debated Thursday, drivers could only use their cellphones, or other electronic devices, in hands-free mode.
The proposal would allow for a single touch or swipe to activate a hands-free mechanism. Exceptions also would be made for emergency calls.
The legislation is now eligible for the state's House to take action on it; however, lawmakers in the House have rejected similar measures in the past.
The bill aims to reduce one of the leading causes of distracted driving, which according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claimed nearly 3,500 lives in the U.S. in 2015.
"Thousands of people die every year in the country, including here in Massachusetts, because of distracted drivers," Sen. Mark Montigny (D-Taunton) said.
Texting while driving already is illegal in Massachusetts, as is all cellphone use by drivers under the age of 18.
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Fourteen states, including Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, currently ban the use of hand-held cellphones by drivers.