FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-22
Many drivers sadly continue to make the mistake of concentrating too much on their cellphones instead of keeping their eyes on the road ― which is a mistake that can have deadly consequences.
Here in Massachusetts, and throughout the country, lawmakers and police are doing their best to curb this epidemic, but tragically distracted driving and texting-while-driving accidents continue to occur.
Fatal consequences of distracted driving
According to statistics reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 3092 deaths and 416,000 injuries caused by crashes involving distracted drivers in 2010. In addition, 18 percent of all car accidents that ultimately cause injuries were reported as “distraction-affected” crashes.
While distracted driving can simply involve eating while driving, texting while driving is often listed as one of the deadliest of distractions. In fact, a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) study ― which is cited by the NHTSA ― discovered that texting while driving increases the risk of crashing 23 times when compared to drivers who are not distracted. The same study concluded that a driver takes their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, on average, to receive or send a text message ― meaning the driver will travel the distance of a football field with their eyes off the road if travelling at 55 mph.
Massachusetts’ texting-while-driving law
Given the severity of potential injuries associated with texting while driving, Massachusetts’ lawmakers passed a law prohibiting the practice. According to the law, no driver may use their cellphone to “manually compose, send or read an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle.” In addition, a driver is fined $100 if caught texting while driving for the first time ― with a fine of $250 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense.
However, despite this law, many lawmakers continue to want stricter cellphone prohibitions for Massachusetts drivers. Notably, last year two separate bills were introduced that, if passed, would have restricted all cellphone use while driving ― including using the phone just to talk ― unless the phone was being used hands-free. Although these bills failed to gain traction, it is likely that the “hands-free” requirement will be proposed again.
Seek help if injured
Unfortunately, it is likely that some careless drivers will continue to text regardless of the law. If you are one of the unfortunate motorists who have been injured by a driver who was texting at the time of the accident, it is often advisable to speak with an experienced distracted driving accident attorney in order to learn of your rights and options.