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State leaders have done little to reduce the threat of Massachusetts car accidents caused by distracted driving

State officials are doing a poor job of reducing the dangers of Massachusetts car accidents caused by distracted driving, the Boston Globe reported.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that 28 states have enacted bans on text messaging while driving. Georgia and Vermont enacted such laws just this month. Meanwhile, lawmakers in the Massachusetts House and Senate have passed different versions and continue to squabble over the details.

“A lot of it is common sense that people need to practice on their own,” said State Sen. Steven Baddour, who expressed optimism that lawmakers would pass legislation and send it to the governor before the session ends on July 31.

Seat belt use and not driving drunk are common sense, too.

“We’re really where we were with drunk driving 25 years ago,” said Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the association. “You have to have a comprehensive system of approaches to address highway safety problems.”

Massachusetts also lags behind other states in the use of public education and law enforcement efforts aimed at reducing distracted driving, according to the report.

Other common forms of distracted driving includes talking to passengers, dressing, applying makeup, grooming, eating, smoking, reading or using in-car electronics like stereos and GPS devices.

Massachusetts does not record distracted driving as a cause of accidents, as 43 other states do. And it does not ask about the issue in driver exams. Nor does it enlist employers in the effort to reduce the dangers distracted drivers pose on the road.

“Massachusetts has not really focused on this issue in terms of their policy or their practice compared to other states,” said Jeff Larson, who heads a Massachusetts nonprofit that promotes safe driving. “I don’t think it has thus far been taken seriously by the state.”

While the overall number of traffic fatalities has declined, from 42,836 in 2004 to 37,261 in 2008, the number of people killed in distracted driving accidents has increased, from 4,978 in 2004 to 5,870 in 2008.

If you have been injured in a Boston car accident or an accident elsewhere in Massachusetts, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.