• Senator Becca Rausch

Distracted Driving, Intersectional Equity, and Good Governance

As a candidate, I promised to fight for intersectional equity and good governance. As your Senator, I promised I would not vote to enact a distracted driving bill that did not meet the mark on both counts. Today, I kept both promises.


Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous. I was very proud to vote YES on the Senate version of this legislation earlier this session. We knew when we passed the Senate version of the bill, legislation prohibiting distracted driving must also contain robust provisions to protect against racial and gender profiling.


Whenever we create a new reason for a driver to be pulled over (in this case, distracted driving), we must also consider the unintended consequences of that policy due to implicit biases we all carry. The Senate version of the bill did that. The House passed its own version of the bill that did not contain robust data collection and analysis provisions. Both chambers then appointed members to a conference committee to resolve the differences. That compromise bill was the legislation before the Senate today for a vote.


I wholeheartedly support the provisions of the compromise bill that outlaw distracted driving, and I so much wanted to vote yes to enact this legislation. But I could not get to a “yes” vote today because the data provisions do not mandate data collection on all traffic stops or define “racial or gender profiling.” The bill also creates concerning precedent about access to public records, such as the data actually collected, even though all of the data contemplated by the bill must be de-identified. Further, I have serious concerns about the path the data will take to its final analysis.


I pledged that I would not agree to a distracted driving bill that fails to robustly address systemic racism. I pledged that I would not vote to continue putting the burden of progress on the backs of black and brown people. Today, with sincere respect for each and every one of my colleagues in the Senate, and with a heavy heart, I abided by that pledge and voted no.


I will continue to fight for the robust data collection, analysis, and publication provisions that Bay Staters both need and deserve to protect against the negative effects of implicit bias. #MApoli #DistractedDriving


Yours in service,


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