Drivers in Massachusetts are still texting away behind the wheel of their vehicles despite the somewhat recent passage of the ban. The ban took effect back on September 30th and between then and May the state issued more than 700 citations to drivers who were busted texting at the wheel. That’s an average of three text citations written a day.
Texting while driving significantly increases your risks for being involved in a distracted driving car accident in Boston.
In the 27 communities on the South Shore, officers issued citations to nearly 70 drivers between September 2010 and May of 2011. That’s only about nine a month. Only two of those citations were handed to drivers under the age of 18.
Our Boston car accident attorneys understand the dangers that accompany distracted driving habits. According to Distraction.gov, nearly 5,500 people died on U.S. roadways in 2009 because of a traffic accident that involved a distracted driver.
While state officials are hopeful that the enforcement efforts have made an impact on drivers, they report that it’s too early to know.
“It’s a difficult law to enforce and there needs to be strengthening of the law,” said Jeff Larson, president of Safe Drivers Alliance, a group that supports laws aimed at curbing distracted driving.
While drivers are prohibited from texting behind the wheel in the state of Massachusetts, they’re still free to use the cellphone while operating a motor vehicle. Larson says that this makes it extremely difficult for officers to tell whether a driver is texting or legally dialing a phone number, according to the Patriot Ledger.
Drivers still have their tricks to get out of this one. Many of them will text below the steering wheel to conceal the phone. When a driver is busted, they’re still able to delete the text messages before the officer approaches the vehicle. The only real way an officer can prove that a driver was texting while driving is to subpoena for the driver’s cellphone records.
Larson suggests that officials enact a law that would require all drivers to use hands-free devices when talking on their cell phones. Not only would this help them to bust drivers that are texting, but it would help to decrease driver distraction as it would eliminate any excuse to hold a phone.
Under Massachusetts state law, drivers are prohibited from reading or sending text messages and emails or surfing the internet, even at a stoplight. If you’re busted, you can face fines ranging anywhere from $100 all the way up to $500. We are the 30th state to enact a statewide texting ban.
Since the law was put into effect, nearly 350 drivers have been cited. Officers have also handed over more than 40 citations to drivers under the age of 18 that were caught talking on their cellphone. Statewide, teen drivers are prohibited from using their cell phones or text messaging. One of these tickets comes with a 60-day license suspension.
“I’m encouraged by the number of citations being issued, because that would indicate officers are being vigilant in their observations,” said Wayne Sampson, director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that enforcement, not just the threat of enforcement, is the number one factor reducing the number of drivers texting behind the wheel.
In 2009, nearly 1,000 fatal traffic accidents in the United States reported the involvement of a distracted driver.
If you have been injured in an accident in the Boston area, contact Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (617) 777-7777.
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