This Thursday, January 21, the Massachusetts Senate is set to consider a bill that will ban holding any type of handheld electronic device while driving. The bill is intended to amend the existing law that was implemented in 2010 which banned texting but didn’t address distracted driving associated with handheld devices in general. Contact a Boston Car Accident Attorney Today.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents. In fact, approximately 26% of all fatal crashes in 2013 were due to distracted driving. “We made a mess in 2010 by doing a half-baked law,” said Montigny, the Senate’s assistant majority leader. “All you have to do is get in the car on any given day, a significant number of people are breaking the law and the law is very difficult to prove without subpoenaing phone records. … No one who is tempted to break the law is really all that troubled by the law as written.” Although texting while driving is illegal, using an electronic device for other purposes is not. Considering it’s nearly impossible for law enforcement to differentiate between a driver who is texting and one who is dialing a phone number or navigating with a GPS, enforcing this law has been futile.
The other problem with the ‘no texting while driving’ law is that it conveys the message that texting is unsafe but other forms of distraction are less so. According to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 60 percent of Massachusetts drivers think it is unacceptable to talk on a cellphone while driving, but 97 percent think it is unsafe to type a text or email while driving. Furthermore, the majority of the group surveyed, admitted to doing one or both during the previous 30 days.
Bill Seeks to Amend 2010 ‘Ban on Texting’ Law
The proposed bill is much more specific in its wording than the 2010 law it is replacing. It seeks to ban drivers from using any type of electronic device unless it is in hands-free mode, or the driver is only touching the device to “activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function.” The bill goes on to state that no driver “shall use a mobile electronic device or other device capable of accessing the internet to compose, send or read an electronic message or to input information by hand into a global positioning system or navigation device while operating such vehicle. An operator of a motor vehicle who holds a mobile electronic device to, or in the immediate proximity of the operator’s head while operating such vehicle shall be presumed to be in violation of this section. For the purposes of this section, an operator shall not be considered to be operating a motor vehicle if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a part of the roadway intended for travel.”
Under the new bill, a first-time offender will receive a $100 fine, a second-time offender will receive a $250 fine, and a third-time and subsequent offender will receive a $500 fine. However, there are exceptions. For instance, “affirmative defenses” include using the device for emergency purposes, to obtain medical assistance, or to contact emergency personnel such as police, fire, or ambulance services.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Motor Vehicle Accident Law Firm
If you have been injured due to another driver’s negligence, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney without delay. Time is of the essence in car accident cases. Distracted driving is one of the top factors in car and truck crashes today. Although most people know the dangers of distracted driving, 78% of Massachusetts drivers surveyed admitted to talking on a cellphone while driving. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, or in any other type of auto accident, the legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.