Cell Phone Use Enforcement Woes: Texting and Driving in Massachusetts

Close-up of a businesswoman sending a text while driving to workStates across the country have sought to remedy the texting and driving crisis that has claimed thousands of lives over the past several years. Through new legislation, fourteen states, not including Massachusetts, have completely banned all hand-held cell phone use while driving. Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker, recently announced his support for new legislation that would extend the current law to include a ban on all hand held cell phone use in the state.

Enforcement a Problem With Texting and Driving Bans

As the law is written now, only school bus drivers and drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from talking on the phone and driving. Texting and driving is banned across the board for all ages and is a primary offense, meaning an officer can pull someone over simply for seeing them texting without any other infractions being noted. However, it can be difficult for an officer to determine when someone is texting versus when someone is dialing to make a call.

This discrepancy has led to few violations being issued to drivers, leading a recent study to conclude that the current texting ban is ineffective as written. Without officers being able to effectively determine whether someone is texting, making a phone call, or changing the music on their iPod, enforcement can be tricky. Officers may erroneously make stops, and the courts would otherwise be flooded with drivers contesting they were texting, but rather, making a call.

The true issue is that regardless of the activity, cell phone use of any kind is still contributing to distracted driving. Lawmakers are torn by the slippery slope possibility that soon it will be unlawful to change the radio, talk, or eat in our cars for fear of distraction. In previous versions of legislation advanced to remedy these issues, senators cited concerns about cost and availability of hands-free devices for drivers to use alternatively. Many new vehicle models offer hands-free devices as part of the radio or navigation system, but these are not widely available to all drivers yet, typically only those that are purchasing new cars, which is not representative of the majority of drivers on the road.

Massachusetts Distracted Driving Attorneys

Our knowledgeable team of auto accident attorneys at John J. Sheehan’s office understand the emotional, physical, and financial ramifications of being in a car accident. If you or anyone you know has been injured due to the inattention of another driver, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Even if you think you were somehow at fault for the accident, this will not necessarily bar your claim. In order to know how to proceed with a legal claim, you need a lawyer on your side to objectively evaluate your case, explain the process to you, and advocate zealously on your behalf. We are always available to provide a complimentary consultation regarding the unique circumstances of your case; contact our Boston office toll-free at 877-762-9510.