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Articles Posted in Texting while driving

The start of summer can be an exciting time for everyone: warmer weather, the end of the school year, vacations, etc. But it also signals the beginning of a more disheartening season. According to research conducted by AAA, the 100 days after Memorial Day (until most school years begin again) are the “deadliest” for teen drivers. One sobering estimate, based on five years of research, is that approximately 1,000 people nationwide will die in automobile crashes involving teenage drivers (between the age of 16 and 19).

Much of this has been attributed to the increased number of teenage drivers on the road – when they are out of school, they are more likely to be driving around – however, this is also compounded by several other factors. For example, distracted driving is an issue for drivers of all ages, but especially for teenagers who are notorious for being “connected” at all times. It is estimated that distracted driving – including both talking and texting on cell phones – is behind almost 60% of crashes that occur over the summer. According to a study done by the University of Iowa which analyzed the final six seconds before a crash (by looking at over 2,000 dash-camera videos of moderate to severe crashes from August 2007 to April 2015) “15% involved talking to others in the car, 12% involved a cell phone (talking, texting, or otherwise operating), and 11% involved looking at or attending to something inside the car.” Additionally, according to Virginia Tech, using a cell phone or other device while driving, makes a crash more than 23 times more likely.

In order to work towards lessening these statistics of close to 10 teen driver-related deaths per day over the summer, it is important to take several different steps as parents, friends, and fellow drivers. If you are the parent of a teen driver, whether or not they recently acquired their license, it is crucial to both be aware of the increased danger of driving over the summer, as well as to communicate and discuss this with your child. Make sure that they understand how texting while driving (or even using their phone in another way) can dramatically increase the risk of crashing – and injuring themselves or others, or even causing a fatality.

Even just 10 years ago, smart phone technology at the complexity and availability that we have today was relegated to the pages of starry-eyed technology articles, optimistic tech companies, and futuristic television shows and movies. The first iPhone didn’t come out until mid-2007, and anybody who owned one of those clunkers can attest that we’ve come a long way since then.  Fast-forward back to the present, and we now live in a world where, literally, almost 100 percent of people under the age of 50 own a smart phone. Statistics from State Farm’s 2015 annual distracted driving survey showed that 99 percent of people aged 18-29 owned one, 97 percent of people aged 30-39 owned one, 92 percent of people aged 40-49 owned one, and a whopping 74 percent of people aged 50+ own one as well.

Age is no longer a factor in owning a smart phone, which could be described with no trace of hyperbole as “distraction machines” when you’re on the road. Texting, apps, on-demand video, social media and relentlessly-updating emails provide a buffet of content that we have never been more addicted to or reliant upon.  Some statistics indicate that more than 600,000 people are attempting to use their phones in some capacity while behind the wheel of a car at any given moment during the day. Although people admitting to sometimes talking on the phone while driving has decreased significantly from 65 percent in 2009 to 51 percent in 2015, the much more dangerous practice of texting and driving increased from 31 percent in 2009 to 36 percent in 2015.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic deaths have risen more than 10 percent in the first half of 2016 than during the first half of 2015, indicating a frightful trend. In 2014, 3,179 Americans died on the road as a result of distracted driving incidents.

Teens at higher risks than anybody

According to AAA, teens are involved in more driving accidents than any other age group of people. In 2013, about 963,000 drivers aged 16-19 were involved in police-reported accidents, resulting in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths. According to data from AAA and the NHTSA, about 58 percent of all teen accidents and 10 percent of teen driving fatalities involved some element of distracted driving.  A 2015 study utilized cameras to observe distracted driving incidents, and showed that distracted drivers had their eyes off the road for over four seconds. In rear-end incidents, half of the distracted teens observed were so distracted that they didn’t even attempt to stop before making impact. Although it’s hard to tell teenagers they aren’t invincible, these kinds of careless decisions can have much more dire consequences. Continue reading

Distracted driving is becoming far too commonplace on the streets of Boston.  All distractions present incredible risk to injury or death, not only the driver, but also passengers and bystanders.  There are three main types of distraction that are based on three types of attention, visual distractions (taking your eyes off the road), manual distractions (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive distractions (taking your mind off of driving).  Common distractions that can occur while operating a vehicle are texting or using a cell phone, eating or drinking, talking to passengers, applying make up or fixing one’s hair, reading (maps or directions), using a GPS, watching a video, and fiddling with radios or MP3 players to play music.

The more dangerous distractions are those that incorporate more than one of the groups of distractions.  For example, a particularly concerning distraction is using a cell phone to text because it requires so many forms of attention, visual, manual, and cognitive.  Some key statistics can illustrate just how damaging distracting driving can be.  In 2014, distracted drivers were associated with 3,179 fatalities and 431,000 injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents.  Studies have show that distracted driving appears to be more prevalent in younger drivers.  Ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of motor vehicle traffic crashes were cases in which the teenage driver, between 15 and 19 years old, was described as being distracted at the time of the crash.  Specifically, it has been studied that texting takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds.  If driving on a highway, assuming travelling about 55 miles per hour, you will travel the length of a football field while your eyes are focused on your text messages.

In order to discourage distracted driving, various state and federal laws have been enacted.  Many states have put a ban on texting and driving.  The Federal bans include banning texting while driving on government business/with government-owned equipment and banning cell phone use while on the job for various professions (railroad workers, motor carriers).  Most notably is the “It can wait” campaign sponsored by AT&T, which urges drivers that their phone can wait.  To date, there are over 8 million pledges made by those who pledge to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones.  Although phones are the most well known driving distraction, other less obvious distractions can be just as dangerous.  As technology advances, cars are becoming more technologically sophisticated.  Most people believe that if respected car companies install intricate “infotainment” dashboards into cars, then they must be safe to use while driving.  However, anything that takes attention away from the road can distract drivers enough to get into an accident.  Driving is not an activity that can be used to multitask.  Continue reading

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

Texting and driving is extremely dangerous, and in some states the action is even illegal. The number of vehicle related accidents that can be directly tied to phone distraction is on the rise. However, a few up-and-coming phone applications have been developed in an effort to combat these accidents from occurring at such a high volume. A range of different options allows drivers and cellphone enthusiasts to select the app they feel best suits their needs while they are on the road. As Boston car accident lawyers we often see what can happen when a driver briefly takes his or her eyes off the road. Sometimes it can be a minor fender bender other times it can be catastrophic.

For those of you who struggle with completely disconnecting yourself from your phone while you travel, app developers are hoping they can lend you a hand (figuratively and literally) to assist in your debacle. Keeping both hands on the wheel and remaining alert and attentive are the most important things you can do while you are driving. The first of these options provided for hands-free driving is an app by the name of Auto SMS. This application is described as being an auto-response to both text messages and phone calls received while traveling in your vehicle. Auto SMS will automatically respond to all phone calls and text messages received when the application is set to a “text-to-speech” setting. In addition to responding to your messages, the application also has the ability to read the text messages aloud to you so that you are aware of who is contacting you and what the matter is regarding. Auto SMS has a variety of settings that you can adjust to best suit your needs, offering you the ability to auto respond to certain people at certain times and the manner in which you would like to respond to these individuals. 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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It can happen in a split second, with no warning. It can happen to anyone, and it could change your life. The new “Don’t Text and Drive” commercial put out by the United States Department of Transportation aims to shock drivers-especially teenagers-into putting their phones down and paying attention to the road. Distracted driving has become an epidemic in recent years as cell phones, tablets, and other devices have come on the market. Teenagers are especially susceptible to the effects of distracted driving because of their inexperience behind the wheel combined with an almost rabid attachment to their cell phones.

The commercial pinpoints the teenage and young adult audience with the slogan, “U drive. U text. U pay,” with the hashtag #justdrive. It features a group of young women traveling in a car on a seemingly normal day. They are seen talking and laughing as the driver becomes distracted by her phone and misses a stop sign. In an instant, they are struck by an oncoming truck in the intersection. The extremely jarring scene unfolds as the car flips over multiple times before coming to rest.

In perhaps the most poignant scene, a police officer stands beside the wreckage and explains, “Nobody likes to be stopped by police, but if I’d seen her texting while driving and given her a ticket, it just might have saved her life.” The shocking images are meant to jolt teens into understanding the reality and consequences of texting while driving at point in their lives when they may feel invincible.
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Officials in Westborough, MA believe the high school senior who was tragically killed in a car accident this month had been texting just before the crash.

Pablo Salcedo was fatally injured on January 5, when the minivan he was operating crashed on Route 9. Salcedo was driving west when he struck some sand-filled barrels, a barrier, and then rolled onto its side in the eastbound lane when it hit another vehicle.

Police in Westborough found that Salcedo was distracted through the use of his cellphone to read text messages, and there was absolutely no indication that he tried to break. Police called it a “preventable accident”

While almost entirely preventable, distracted driving accidents account for nearly 20% of all motor vehicle collisions in the United States. In 2011, 3,330 people were killed and 387,000 were injured in as the result of distracted driving. A person who is texting or using a smart phone while driving is 23 times more likely to get into an accident than someone who is not distracted. 5 seconds is the average time a person’s eyes are taken off the road while texting, according to the United States Ad Council, and at 55mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field blindfolded!

In addition to smart phone use, individuals may also be distracted in the car by:
• Eating or drinking

• Talking to passengers

• Daydreaming

• Grooming

• Reading, including maps

• Using a navigation system

• Watching a video

• Adjusting the radio Continue reading

Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. If you are obeying the speed limit and traveling at 55 miles per hour, that means you covered the distance of a football field. 60% of drivers use cell phones while they drive and 39% of teenagers say that they have been involved in near-crash scenarios because of their own or someone else’s distracted driving. It is well known that texting while driving is dangerous and reckless; however, 78% of teens and young adults reported that they have read a text while driving.
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According to Mont Vernon police, the driver accused of killing a man last week in a hit-and-run accident was texting just before the crash.

Travis Hobbs, 20, was charged with negligent homicide in connection with the crash that killed John Bachman, 71, on Monday. Hobbs told police he was texting and thought he hit only a snowbank. He turned himself in after seeing media reports about the crash.

The victim reportedly was getting his mail when he was struck. He was found injured in a snow bank and later died from his injuries.

Hobbs was arrested last Tuesday and released after posting $50,000 bail plus $1,000 cash. As part of his release, he is not allowed to drive.

Texting and driving accidents have become more and more prevalent as technology continues to be integrated into our daily lives. While Massachusetts has not passed legislation as strict as New Jersey, there are still laws against cell phone use in the car. In 2010, Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed a new law making it illegal for any operator to use a mobile cell phone or handheld device to manually compose a text message or access the Internet. The new law does not ban the use of cell phones to make phone calls, except to operators under the age of 18.

Any individual who is caught violating the law is subject to fines, and for those under 18, license suspension. Fines for this law start at $35 for a first violation and increase for any violations thereafter. First offenses for individuals under 18 include a $100 fine, a 60-day license suspension, as well as an “attitudinal retraining course.”
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