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Articles Posted in Distracted Driving

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.

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Doctor of Medicine

Many motorists count on the personal injury protection (PIP) provisions of their no-fault automobile insurance policies to pay their medical bills in the event of an accident. However, it is important to note that payment of medical expenses under PIP comes with strings attached. If you have been involved in an accident, you need to know about a recent case interpreting the statute under which PIP protection is offered.

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90 § 34M states that a person who seeks benefits under PIP “shall submit to physical examinations by physicians selected by the insurer as may be reasonably required.” The purported purpose of this is to assist the insurance company in determining the amount legitimately due to the claimant under the PIP provisions. In the recent case of Ortiz v. Examworks, Inc., the Massachusetts Supreme Court was called upon to interpret the statutory provisions.

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A recent court of appeals ruling may change the landscape of who can be held responsible for an accident caused by a distracted driver.  The court in smart-phone-icon-1377498-mNew Jersey held that a remote texter could be held liable to third parties for injuries caused when the distracted driver has an accident.  The court explained that the person sending the messages has a duty to refrain from texting a driver if the remote texter knows, or has special reason to know, that the recipient will look at the text from behind the wheel.  While this decision does not govern car accident cases arising in Cape Cod, one can be sure that courts around the country are taking notice of this ruling of “first impression.”

According to the website, Distraction.gov, you are 23 times more likely to crash if you text while driving.  Their slogan says it all: “One text or call could wreck it all.”  The seriousness of texting while driving is certainly garnering national attention — and not a moment too soon.  Distracted driving has been characterized as a dangerous epidemic.  In 2011, more than 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving car accidents.  These alarming statistics continue to grow despite the fact that many states have passed laws banning texting while driving. In fact, since 2010, drivers in Massachusetts have been prohibited from sending, typing, or reading electronic messages via handheld devices while driving.

While the court refused to find the remote texter liable in the case mentioned above, the judge clearly has set forth the potential for liability. In all likelihood, the court is probably trying to do its part to reduce the number of people who are texting while driving in an effort to reduce the number of related crashes and devastating injuries and deaths.  Distracted driving accidents are the cause of many kinds of serious injuries, including broken bones, head trauma, paralysis and other life-altering conditions.

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1131636_no_cellsDistracted driving is becoming a widespread phenomenon across the country.  According to a recent news article, distracted driving is the cause of more than 3,000 fatalities in the United States each year. The problem has gained national attention as many states have taken notice of these troubling statistics and enacted safer driving laws.  For people in Cape Cod, the pertinent state law went into effect in 2010 and bans drivers from sending, typing, or reading electronic messages using handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle.

It was hoped that these new laws would reduce the number of car accidents caused by distracted drivers.  If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You are encouraged to contact a local attorney with experience handling car accident claims to assist you with your case.

The Cape Cod Today reported on a recent survey conducted by the Boston-based insurer, Plymouth Rock Assurance, that looked at drivers’ attitudes about texting while driving.  The results are surprising.  The company issued a questionnaire to 500 drivers in Massachusetts and Connecticut.  Despite the fact that the safe driving law has been in existence for almost three years, 40 percent of drivers in Massachusetts say that they still send text messages while driving. In addition, only 22 percent of those surveyed say they plan to completely abide by the law, and a bold 26 percent say they will totally ignore the law.

According to the survey, the primary culprits appear to be people between the ages of 17 and 44 – they were twice as likely to text and drive — and overall, female drivers were also more likely to have texted while driving. On a somewhat promising note, 96 percent of those surveyed say they would not text and drive with young children in the car.

In a coincidental turn of events, on the very day that these survey results were published, the Massachusetts State Police announced that they received $275,000 in grant money to help put an end to texting and driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is funding the effort aimed at enforcing the Massachusetts Safe Driving Law.  The safety program is called “Text With One Hand, Ticket In The Other,” and entails monitoring highways and looking for distracted drivers by implementing what the police call, “high visibility enforcement.” Over the next few months, the Massachusetts law enforcement will set up sting operations along state highways in 12 communities.

Aside from texting, other forms of distracted driving include the use of a GPS device while driving, as well as checking Facebook and Twitter accounts and other social media outlets.  Taking one’s eyes off of the road while driving can lead to devastating consequences.  In addition to the devastating fatalities caused by distracted driving accidents, many people also suffer from serious injuries, such as broken bones, head trauma and other life-threatening matters.  Victims of these accidents are entitled to seek financial compensation for their suffering and losses. The ideal course of action is to contact an injury attorney with a great deal of experience handling such cases, as soon as possible after the accident.
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