Articles Posted in Distracted Driving

A Lexus SUV crashed into a school bus early Thursday morning in Boston’s O’Neill Tunnel. Thankfully, this story ends well. The SUV was being driven by 52-year-old Thomas Wells, a construction worker from Saugus, Mass. Wells was on his way to work when he dozed off behind the wheel. The crash occurred at around 6 a.m. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

Fortunately, there were no children on the bus at the time of the accident. The traffic on Interstate 93 was backed up for hours. According to witnesses, after being hit by the SUV, the bus skidded to a stop in the tunnel’s southbound lanes. The stopped traffic extended to Wilmington, about 19 miles from the crash site.

Drowsy Driver Claims to Work ‘Long Hours’

“I wasn’t like snoring or anything, I just shut my eyes for a second, I guess, and drifted over,” said Wells, going on to say that he often works long hours. “Maybe I didn’t sleep that well last night, I don’t know. … I will tell you what, I’m 52 years old, and that’s the first accident I’ve had since I was 18.” However, when WBZ asked Wells if he was awake during the accident, he said, “Of course I was. I was on my way to work, like I do every day.”

Common Side-Effects of Drowsy Driving

More than 300,000 accidents are blamed on drowsy or fatigued driving annually. According to the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving can result in:

  • Impaired reaction time
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impaired vision
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Decreased vigilance
  • Decreased performance
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Moodiness

Due to the dangers of drowsy driving, certain states are considering drowsy driving legislation. This legislation would permit law enforcement to charge fatigued drivers with a crime if another person is seriously injured or killed as a result of their lack of sleep.

Drowsy Driving Warning Signs

  • Frequent blinking and yawning
  • Missing an exit
  • Drifting into the other lane
  • Running over rumble strips
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles
  • Who is Most at Risk for Drowsy Driving?

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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.”

Affirmative Defenses

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. Continue reading

While there was a slight decline in traffic-related deaths in 2014, data gathered from traffic watchdog National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points to an increase in crash fatalities and a need to revive the fight against deadly driving behavior on America’s roads.

NHTSA’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) figures for 2014 show that 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014, a 0.1-percent decrease from the 2013. The fatality rate fell to a record-low of 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Estimates for the first six months of 2015 show a troubling increase in the number of fatalities: an 8.1-percent increase from the same time period last year. The fatality estimate for the first part of the year was up 8.1 percent, and the fatality rate rose 4.4 percent. While NHTSA experts admit that estimates are often subject to revision, the estimated increase represents a shift away from the downward trend.

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A new app from data-analytics company Censio is one backseat driver that people might actually learn to like. In addition to making you a better driver, the app may also save you money. Allston-based Censio created the app in an effort to reduce distracted driving and the millions of annual traffic accidents that result from this dangerous behavior. In a recent phone interview, company president Kevin Ferrell said, “Our purpose and the mission of the company is to help drivers and people around the world become better, safer drivers.” Contact a Massachusetts Accident Attorney.

So, how does it work?

Censio is a phone-based app that tracks a user’s driving habits by tapping into his or her smartphone sensors. By doing so, the app can track the driver’s speed, positioning, frequency of braking, level of distraction, and much more. Censio is unique because it doesn’t rely on connected car devices. These devices, such as Zubie and Automatic, that require connection to the diagnostic port of a vehicle, can only base their tips on the car’s actual movements. Censio goes a step further by indicating whether a driver uses his or her smartphone to send a text or make a call during a session, the frequency of hard-braking, and how often the car is being driven during “high risk” times of day.

Distracted driving is responsible for nine deaths and more than 1,100 injuries every day, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports on its website that there were a total of 3,154 distracted driving related deaths in 2013 alone. Continue reading

An otherwise ordinary auto auction turned into a scene of chaos last week, when an elderly driver crashed a BMW into eight bystanders in Framingham. According to police, 78-year-old Herbert Sunshine was driving an SUV when the vehicle accelerated, hitting several vehicles before it crashed into a crowd of people at the ADESA Auction House on Western Avenue. Sunshine is a contract driver for the auction house.

One Victim Seriously Injured, Taken to Mass General by Helicopter

The accident, which occurred around 10 a.m. on Friday, resulted in one serious injury when a man became pinned under the SUV and a cinder block wall. Although the individual’s injuries were non-life threatening, they were serious enough to require a MedFlight helicopter to Mass General Hospital.  Sunshine’s wife, who was in the vehicle in front of him, was also injured, although not seriously. She, and each of the other victims, were taken to MetroWest Medical Center by ambulance. Sunshine, who was visibly shaken, was not injured.

One of the victims, Larry Proulx, told WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano, “As I spun around to see what was going on I don’t know if people hit me or a car hit me it all happened so fast.” Sunshine struck five parked vehicles before crashing into the group of people. The SUV finally came to a stop when it knocked over a cinder block interior wall. “People were running everywhere,” said Proulx. “I saw the car crash into a wall. I was just trying to run to get outside.”

It appears as though no charges will be filed against Sunshine. Continue reading

Distracted driving can lead to a number of serious accidents—sometimes with fatal results. A few states have recently placed a new law in effect that bans drivers from being on their phone, whether to take a call or send a text, while they are operating a vehicle. The hope is that if people were to put down their phones, they would remain alert to their surroundings and drive safely. A recent incident in Maine is proving, however, that even if the driver isn’t the one holding the phone, they can still become distracted by the devices anyway. A man from Hampden, Maine lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a tree after he attempted to take a “selfie” with the passengers in his car. That’s right—he took his eyes off the road in an effort to squeeze himself into a picture that was being taken inside of the vehicle he was actively operating.

29 year old Jordan Toner has officially been charged with failing to maintain control of a car while being distracted following the incident that took place in Orient, Maine on Saturday. According to reports provided by Maine State Police, Toner lost control of his 2014 Mazda CX5 and crashed into a tree shortly after 1:30 PM. Jordan Toner was driving along Deering Lake Road with several passengers when one of his friends decided they wanted to take a “selfie”. Toner allegedly leaned over in an effort to join in the picture taking, and that was when he swerved off the road and into a nearby tree. Reportedly, two women were in the front seat beside Toner and neither of them had been wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident. The two women experienced the most serious injuries during the crash, with one suffering a fractured nose and facial lacerations and the other sustained neck and back injuries from the impact. Continue reading

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teen fatalities in the United States. Every year, an estimated 5,000 teens die and approximately 400,000 are severely injured. When comparing statistics to those for adults, the risk of a collision is four times greater for  drivers between the ages of 16 and 19. Lack of experience and maturity are largely to blame for the high rate of collisions among teens. Additionally, misinterpreting or underestimating the risks involved with certain driving behaviors can lead to hazardous choices.

Teen males are particularly susceptible to motor vehicle accidents. In fact, statistics show that young males are over one and-a-half times more likely to die in a crash than females. To lower these statistics, it is essential for parents to educate their teens on common causes of teen crashes. By stressing the importance of utilizing safe driving practices, and the consequences of risky behaviors, you can help reduce the number of serious accidents involving teenage drivers.


About one-third of fatal teen car accidents involve speeding. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Research Institute interviewed teen focus groups across the country. The majority of those polled considered speeding to be “over 10 miles above the speed limit,” and more than half admitted to regularly speeding. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that teen speeding fatalities were up from 30% in 2000 to 33% in 2012. Many agencies, such as the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, are concerned that the recent focus on teens and distracted driving has taken attention away from working to decrease teenage speeding accidents.

Drinking and Driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that one in 10 high school teens drinks and drives. When the CDC surveyed high school students over the age of 16, a substantial number of students admitted to driving while under the influence at least once within the past 30 days. Although teenage drinking and driving has decreased by 54% since 1991, approximately 85% of those polled reported binge drinking (having five or more drinks) within two to three hours before driving. Perhaps the most common form of teenage rebellion, exploration, and peer pressure, teen drinking and driving greatly influences the high rate of car accidents involving young people in the United States. Continue reading

Everyone knows the dangers of texting while driving. Currently, 39 states have laws against this growing problem, and anti-texting campaigns can regularly be seen and heard on radio, television, social media, and in print ads. These ads have become increasingly graphic in an attempt to discourage drivers from texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel.

But do they work?

According to a recent report, there are 660,000 drivers looking at their phones at any given moment. Young people between the ages of 18 and 24 account for the largest percentage of offenders. Unfortunately, this is the same age group with the highest risk of fatal crashes. Young people are less experienced drivers, and have a tendency to engage in riskier behaviors (not wearing a seatbelt, speeding) than their older counterparts. Combining these risk-factors with the added risk of texting while driving proves fatal for thousands of young people every year. Obviously, something needs to be done.

Anti-texting Campaigns Are “Missing the Mark”

Unfortunately, reports show that the surge of anti-texting campaigns is proving largely ineffective. A recent survey found that 97% of teens already know that texting and driving is extremely dangerous. With the dangers of texting and driving being the main focus of just about every ad campaign, it seems as though the campaigns are simply telling people what they already know. Continue reading

It may come as a surprise to learn that teens are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel than their older counterparts. As we age, our ability to quickly relax and fall asleep begins to decrease. However, in teens, this function is still alive and well. Unfortunately, it also makes young drivers vulnerable to falling asleep behind the wheel, especially if they get less than adequate sleep on a regular basis. While teens typically experience less sleep problems than older adults, common behaviors such as staying up late at night and getting up early for summer jobs can increase the risk of drowsy-driving in teens. Continue reading

The family of Elizabeth Peralta-Luna is suing truck driver Zachary Barngrover and his employer Monson and Sons Inc. for wrongful death. Peralta-Luna, 30, and her two young children, ages 4 and 9, were killed last month in a semi-truck crash.

The three of them were crossing an intersection when they were hit by the truck, driven by Barngrover. The pedestrian accident case contends that the truck driver did not keep a proper lookout, did not yield the right of way to the pedestrians, and he was using a cell phone while operating the large vehicle. Police cited Barngrover for not yielding to the pedestrian, who were walking in a crosswalk, and turning left improperly.

Distracted driving is dangerous driving regardless of the size of one’s vehicle. That said, truck accidents often lead to catastrophic injuries and deaths, which makes driving one while talking on the cell phone or texting even more of an injury and crash risk. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration banned bus drivers and commercial truckers from texting while operating a vehicle in 2010. The following year they banned commercial drivers from using hand-held cell phones at all.

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