The number of traffic violations issued for texting and driving in Massachusetts continues to grow as state and local police recognize the problem of distracted driving as increasingly more and more serious. The state is still a long way away from serious enforcement, however, and distracted driving, especially attributed to cell phone use, is on the rise.
Texting and driving became an offense in September, 2010, with the passage of the Safe Driving Law. In addition to making it an offense to send or read a text while behind the wheel (even when stopped in traffic), the law forbids drivers under the age of eighteen from using a mobile device for any reason. Depending on the specifics of the violation, drivers who don’t obey the law can be fined as much as $500 and receive up to a one-year license suspension.
An analysis by the Boston Globe found that in 2015, police issued 6,131 tickets for texting and driving. That was up over the paltry 1,153 tickets written during the first full year the law was in effect (2011), but it may be catching only a small fraction of offenders.
In New York State, for instance, almost 85,000 tickets were written in 2015 for texting and driving. New York has roughly three times the population of the Bay State, but handed out nearly fourteen times as many tickets. It’s hard to believe that New York’s drivers are really that much more phone-obsessed than ours.
Enforcement for 2016 is predicted to be higher, and we’re optimistic that we’ll see improvement over time—both from law enforcement ticketing more offenders, and from drivers recognizing that device use while behind the wheel just isn’t worth the catastrophic risk.
Distracted driving of any kind, whether browsing the Web or simply holding a conversation with a passenger, is dangerous and causes many motor vehicle crashes each year. In 2014, distracted driving contributed to crashes in which more than 430,000 people were injured and over 3,100 were killed. Texting while driving, by some estimates, increases the risk of a crash by twenty-three times.
But that doesn’t stop people from doing it. In a survey conducted by AAA, 70 percent of drivers admitted to talking on a phone while driving at least once in the previous month. Forty-two percent said they’d read a text or email, while 32 percent admitted to sending a text while behind the wheel within the past thirty days.
These actions can have immediate and drastic consequences. You might remember seeing some dramatic footage from a few months back: This terrifying crash in Reading, caught on video in April, demonstrates just how dangerous texting and driving can be. The driver had been observed to be texting when she nearly caused a crash, so a concerned motorist began recording her. Within minutes, she crossed the yellow line and slammed head-on into another vehicle. Fortunately for all involved, no one was seriously injured in the crash. The driver was cited for several violations, including for sending or reading text messages while operating a motor vehicle.
At the Law Offices of Joel H. Schwartz, PC, our attorneys have extensive experience with automobile accident law. We specifically understand what’s involved in cases of distracted driving, including those where cell phone use is part of the equation.
If you’ve been the victim of an accident caused by a distracted driver who was using a mobile device in violation of state traffic regulations, give us a call today at 1-800-660-2270 or complete our contact form below for a free consultation to see what we can do to help.