MADAWASKA, Maine — The Madawaska Police Department wants people to successfully comply with the state’s new “hands-free” law that prohibits the use of handheld phones and devices while driving.
The new law took effect Thursday, Sept. 19. With that in mind, the department is helping people set up Bluetooth technology in their vehicles so they can use their phones safely.
The police department posted a reminder of the new law on its Facebook page Sept. 16. The new law allows officers to pull people over for so much as having their phone in their hand while driving.
“We know that a lot of people have Bluetooth technology in their vehicles, but some have not set it up for whatever reason,” police wrote. “If you need assistance in setting up your vehicle’s Bluetooth technology, please stop by the Police Department and we will gladly help.”
Madawaska Police Chief Ross Dubois said that traffic safety is important to the department and that there is more than one way to be a distracted driver.
“Statistics show that distracted driving is a factor in numerous crashes,” Dubois said. “There are a number of activities that you shouldn’t be doing while driving. Snapchat, texting and Facebooking are obvious, but it can be that morning cup of coffee or that morning sandwich that you’re having on your way to work. It could be putting makeup on in the car. Even talking to your passengers in the vehicle. Our whole goal is to gain voluntary compliance with traffic laws.”
The new law could cost violators $50 for the first offense and up to $250 for each additional offense. The only exception to the hands-free law is if you need to contact the police to inform them of an impaired driver or if there is a medical emergency.
“I’m glad that we have a police department that is thinking outside the box and knows that their job is not only law enforcement,” said Town Manager Gary Picard. “They are using education and outreach to help people adjust to the new laws and I think that is great. I am glad that they came up with such a great idea. Kudos to them, for thinking outside the box and being proactive.”