By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Tens of thousands of people have been warned about distracted driving in Massachusetts since a “hands-free” law took effect last year, MassDOT said Wednesday.

There have been 53,638 motor vehicle citations since the law that said people can no longer drive with a phone in their hands for any reason took effect on Feb. 23, 2020. Of those citations, 40,181 were warnings for distracted driving.

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“Distracted drivers are a hazard on the road,” Acting Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler said in a statement. “Drivers must have eyes on the road ahead because even the smallest distraction in a vehicle can have deadly consequences. For your sake and the sake of others traveling on the roads, please put the phone away, drive sober, travel at or below the posted speed limit and pay attention to what’s going on around you while driving.”

First offense violations of the law come with a $100 fine, a second offense is a $250 penalty, and subsequent violations are $500 each.

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Statistics show the country saw nearly 15,000 deadly crashes involving a distracted driver between 2015 and 2019. The percentage of deadly crashes involving distracted driving in Massachusetts was 12%, according to MassDOT.

Massachusetts drivers are advised to turn their phone off and put it out of reach before hitting the road.

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CBSBoston.com Staff