According to the National Safety Council, there have been an estimated 47,000 crashes in the United States involving drivers that were using their cell phones so far this year. In another recent study, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that engaging in other tasks other than driving that required using your vision, such as looking for your phone, texting, or dialing a number, significantly increases the likelihood of you getting into accident. Virginia Tech’s research showed that text messaging multiplied your chances of getting into an accident by a factor of 20. Findings like these, of course, are not necessarily new. Local associations, state government agencies, and even the federal government have all warned about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. But, state laws on cell phone use differ. Illinois, for example, has a complete ban on phone-to-ear cell phone use.
Cell Phone Use while Driving in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is more lenient than Illinois when it comes to talking and driving. There are no prohibitions for drivers, unless you are under the age of 18 and you only have a learner’s permit. These “junior operators” are not allowed to use cell phones at all, even if it is through a hands free device. However, even if you are not a ‘junior operator’ you should still be conscious of talking on the phone while driving. There are many studies that show that being distracted is not simply a result of taking your eyes off the road. Cognitive distraction even occurs when a driver uses a hand-held device.
Texting while Driving in Massachusetts
Texting, on the other hand, is every bit as illegal as it is in Illinois. Drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. Drivers are not allowed to use a mobile device to email, send an instant message or access the internet while driving. Further, this prohibition exists even when you are stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic. Although a first offense only results in a small fine, the danger you can cause by texting and driving is very real, and very serious. Two years ago, in June, a teenager was convicted of motor-vehicle homicide by texting, and was sentenced to two years in jail. The teen killed a father of three after becoming distracted while sending a text message.
Fines for text messaging can range from $100 to over $500, depending on the number of times you have been issued a ticket, in addition to other factors. Your license may also be suspended. If an officer witnesses you texting while you are in your motor-vehicle, the officer can pull you over for the offense and issue you a citation
If you have been injured or have caused an injury because you used your cell phone or were texting while you driving, contact John J. Sheehan today.