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What’s Being Done to Combat the Ever-Growing Problem of Distracted Driving in Massachusetts?

Speech bubbles over smartphone - Modern communication and messaging concept

Mobile telephones have been around longer than you may realize. Invented in the 1970s, they first reached the consumer market in the early 1980s in the form of a 2 1/2-pound brick that did nothing but make an actual phone call. Over the years, various features have been added until, nowadays, most of us walk around with a “smart” phone that is many times more powerful than all of NASA’s computers combined at the time astronauts first reached the moon.

They’re handy little gadgets. Unfortunately, they are also very addictive (especially for teenagers), and their use while driving has caused so many accidents that cellphone use has spawned its own category on accident statistic forms:  “distracted driving.”

To combat this ever-growing problem, a few years ago the Massachusetts legislature enacted a law (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, § 13B) that prohibits any driver from texting while driving and a law (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, § 8M) forbidding “junior operators” (drivers under the age of 18) from engaging in any use of a mobile phone or other mobile electronic device, including hands-free phones, while driving. Many are now saying these laws are not enough.

A Push Towards More Effective Legislation

With distracted driving accidents now accounting for approximately one in four traffic crashes, and the death toll from wrecks involving texting or other cell phone use steadily rising, there is a push for tougher legislation. According to reports, there are several bills now pending before the Massachusetts legislature that would make it illegal to use any cellphone while in a car unless such use is through a hands-free device.

According to proponents of the legislation, banning all cellphone use except hands-free usage would make it easier for law enforcement to crack down on texting while driving because, as the law stands now, it is difficult for an officer to determine whether a driver who is seen holding a phone is actually in violation of the no-texting ban. Since the proposed change would make it illegal to hold a cellphone at all while driving, an officer who sees someone holding a phone while operating a motor vehicle would be able to write a citation without verifying that the person was, in fact, using the phone to send a text message.

The legislature may also consider raising the penalties for texting and driving. As the law stands now, a driver who disobeys the no-texting law can only be fined a maximum of $500. (The current fine is $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.) Ponder exactly how high a penalty would have to be to get the average driver to permanently put down his or her phone while behind the wheel.

To Get Advice About a Distracted Driving Accident Case

As attorneys, we understand that distracted driving can yield tragic results. We see these types of cases all too often. If you or a family member has been hurt in a car accident because of a driver’s use of a smartphone or other electronic device while driving, you need a compassionate yet aggressive law firm on your side as you seek compensation for what you have been through. To schedule a free consultation about your case, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, at 888-262-6664. Our offices are located in Hyannis and Plymouth, and we proudly serve all of the Cape Cod area.

Related Blog Posts:

“Remote Texter” Could Be Held Liable for Distracted Driving Accident

Massachusetts Police Announce Increased Efforts to Enforce Safe Driving Law