One could practically hear crickets chirping at a recent committee
meeting, where lawmakers convened to discuss a possible ban on cell phones for Massachusetts drivers.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 16 percent of all fatal crashes involve drivers who were distracted. And further, an estimated 5,500 people were killed in accidents where the driver wasn’t paying attention.
It’s been a hot-button issue across the country, where the merits of cell phone and texting bans have been debated by officials in nearly every state.
As you’re probably aware, it’s been nearly two years since Massachusetts banned texting for motorists, as well as the use of all cell phones for teen drivers, except in emergencies.
Now, the proposed bills Massachusetts lawmakers are discussing are intended to bolster police efforts to enforce these measures, as well as make drivers safer. Many people believe forbidding texting behind the wheel isn’t enough because of concerns about enforcement. If a police officer spots a driver pressing buttons on his or her phone, there is no proof the driver wasn’t simply dialing a number, as opposed to sending a text.
Proponents say an outright cell phone ban would resolve this issue.
But attendees at the meeting earlier this month were a little thrown off by the lack of turn out to discuss the new bills. The Herald reported that officials expected at least some resistance, as the proposed laws could be considered too broad.
While Gov. Deval Patrick has worried aloud whether such legislation may be unfair, he said he would support measures that support the use of hands-free, rather than hand-held, devices.
Regarding the meeting, Democratic representative Thomas McGee was quoted as saying, “We expected this to be a much more attended hearing than one person coming in to testify. We do get a lot of information. We do get a lot of feedback and hopefully we continue to get that.”
The lawmakers themselves have strong feelings on the matter. One even went so far as to liken cell phone use while driving to effectively “committing suicide.”
Sadly, the statistics seem to support that.
The NHTSA reports that texting behind the wheel increases your crash risk by 23 percent. When you consider that the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry reported that there were 196 billion text messages sent in June of last year – an increase of 50 percent from just two years earlier – the implications are obvious.
Your risk of being involved in a cell-phone related crash is skyrocketing.
That’s why lawmakers anticipate the debate will likely gain momentum as the proposed bills move further through the legislative process.
It’s an issue our Boston car accident attorneys care greatly about because we’ve seen firsthand what can happen when drivers become blase to the dangers of distracted driving.
You can learn more about contacting your representatives on this issue by visiting the Massachusetts State Government website.
If you have been involved in a distracted driving-related car accident in Massachusetts, contact Boston Injury Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman. Our firm offers free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.
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