SAUGUS — As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Chief Michael Ricciardelli and the Saugus Police Department would like to remind residents to stay focused when they are behind the wheel.

April is designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, as designated by the National Safety Councill. As part of the campaign, the Saugus Police Department is working to raise awareness about the importance of attentive and engaged driving, and is focusing on the dangers distracted driving poses to everyone on the road, including other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2021 alone there were over 3,522 deaths as a result of distracted driving.

Massachusetts law prohibits drivers from using their phone while driving, including writing, sending or reading electronic messages, using apps or browsing the internet while driving, even if stopped at a light or in traffic. Operators are permitted to use hands-free technology including Bluetooth, “single tap or swipe” to activate or deactivate hands-free mode, navigation technology mounted to the car’s dash and phone use in emergency situations. Drivers may use their phones if they are stationary and not in an active traffic lane.

“It’s important to put your phone away and focus on the road while you’re driving,” Chief Ricciardelli said. “Distracted driving is a major safety risk that can cause crashes in our community, and puts everyone on the road in danger.”

The Saugus Police Department wishes to share the following recommendations provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to prevent tragedies due to distracted driving:

  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
  • Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
  • Speak up when a driver uses an electronic device behind the wheel. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the road.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are your best defense against unsafe drivers.
  • Be alert for pedestrians and cyclists, especially those who may themselves be distracted.

For more distracted driving safety information please visit the National High Traffic Safety Administration’s website here.