The state House of Representatives voted 153-1 today in favor of a bill that would ban the use of handheld electronic devices while driving. State Rep. Chynah Tyler of Roxbury (D-7th Suffolk), who cast the lone opposing vote, says she doesn't oppose the basic idea, but that the bill did not contain any provisions to collect data to ensure minority drivers won't be singled out for enforcement.
In e-mail to constituents tonight, she wrote:
I agree that hands-free legislation should be enacted in the Commonwealth. Cell phone use is the main factor that leads to distracted driving, and distracted driving is one of the major causes of traffic accidents that can lead to injuries and/or death.
However, I have heard from many of you about tense interactions with law enforcement while on the road. As a member of the Public Safety committee, it is my duty to change the narrative and to work towards better relationships with our law enforcement. Collecting data from all traffic stops - regardless of whether they result in a citation - would have ensured that we can reached our goal of having unbiased policing.
As a member of the legislative body, I am appreciative of all of the hard work put forth by my colleagues around distracted driving and how it relates to racial profiling. I am, however, concerned knowing that more data could have been collected in efforts to protect drivers like you.
We must now turn our focus to ensuring that there is accountability in the data collection that we currently have. With your support, I look forward to leading that effort with my colleagues in the legislature .