texting and driving


Distracted Driving Awareness

Distracted driving is an ongoing issue that continues to endanger thousands of drivers each year.  Since April is distracted driving awareness month, we wanted to get some of the facts about this dangerous habit and help spread awareness.

So what is distracted driving exactly?  Basically it is anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off of the wheel, or mind off of driving.  It can be an action as simple as changing the radio or reaching for something in the seat next to you.  The best example would be talking on the phone or texting while driving.  Texting is in fact one of the worst distractions facing drivers.  It takes your mind and eyes off the road as well as your hands off of the wheel.

Even if it seems like reading or sending a text is not a big deal, it takes your attention away from driving and increases the odds of an accident.  Hands-free cell phone use isn’t much safer, research has shown that even cognitive distractions hinder a driver’s ability to pick up on audio and visual cues that could potentially prevent an accident.

You may think that distracted driving is not as dangerous as it is made out to be, but the statistics related to it have proven otherwise.  Did you know that in 2010 over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the youngest and most inexperienced drivers are at risk, about 16% of distracted driving accidents involve drivers under the age of 20.

Did you also know that at any point during daylight hours, there are about 800,000 vehicles on the road being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.  That’s a lot of distraction that not only endangers the driver, but everyone else on the road as well.

Why isn’t distracted driving illegal in all states you may ask?  It’s because State law has jurisdiction over passenger car driving.   More and more states are passing tougher laws when it comes to distracted driving, and Massachusetts is one of them.  All drivers are banned from texting and junior operators are banned from any cell phone use whatsoever.  Bus drivers are also banned from any cell phone use.

What are some tips for safe driving?  The first step is being aware of what it is and the damage it can cause.  Next, be sure to avoid any and all cell phone use while driving.  If you listen to music in the car,  choose a CD or and iPod playlist that doesn’t have commercials so you don’t have to change the channel or skip songs.   You can also take the Pledge to drive phone-free today and encourage family and friends to do the same.  Distracted driving is entirely preventable and the accidents it causes are avoidable.  Protect yourself and others on the road by taking all precautions to avoid distractions on the road.

Want to keep your car safe from distracted drivers on the road? MassDrive offers more information on car insurance.

All information and statistics were obtained from the Official US Government Website for Distracted Driving.

Photo By: OregonDOT

Lower Than Expected Citations for Texting & Driving

Massachusetts is reporting a lower number of texting while driving citations than expected.  Since September 30th a grand total of 245 drivers across the state have been ticketed on the offense, of those a mere 16 were given to drivers less than 18 years of age. It is possible drivers have found the strength to turn off their cell phones or chucked their PDA to the back seat; then again – maybe they’ve found a way to text without being caught.

After a long legislative debate the texting ban was enacted September 30th of 2010. The new legislation is intended to make roads safer and drivers more alert to their surroundings. It has been thought the low citation numbers across the state, totaling less than 3 per day, may exhibit the difficulty officers face in determining if drivers are using their phones and pda’s behind the wheel.

The texting citation, although not a surchargeable ticket, will cost you a pretty penny. The fine totals $100.00 for drivers over the age of 18. Drivers less than 18 years of age caught texting and driving may face heavier fines, license suspension, and additional driving courses to re-instate a licnese.

New technologies have made it possible to hold incoming messages, send auto responses, and even read incoming messages to you. Weighing the risk of facing a fine, suspension for the under-agers, and placing your life and many others in danger – is that text message really worth it?

Twenty-Nine Texting & Driving Citations

A recent publication by the Massachusetts RMV suggests some Bay State drivers have yet to adjust to the new texting and driving ban. As of October 15th Massachusetts has served 29 citations regarding new regulations.

Mary Beth Heffernan, Public Safety Secretary, commented:

“Distracted driving is a serious threat to public safety. Cracking down on distracted drivers is imperative… We must reduce the threat posed by those who don’t give their undivided attention to the road while behind the wheel.”

Reinforcing Heffernan’s efforts here are a few things to remember before texting behind the wheel:

  • Drivers Less Than 18 Years of Age: Drivers younger than 18 years are not banned from using a cell phone while driving. If cited the teen driver can face a $100 – $500 fine, 90 day – 1 year suspension of license and/or required to complete a required attitudinal retraining course.
  • Drivers violating use of electronic device: Drivers of 18 years and older may face fines of $100 – $500.
  • Drivers with 3+ Surchargeable Citations: Drivers accruing 3+ surchargable citations in a two year time period may face suspension of license and required to complete a driver retraining course.

For more information on the texting and driving legislation please visit the RMV website.

New Driving Legislature Affecting You

The majority of Massachusetts drivers have at least heard about some new legislature that is to take effect this month, but many are still unaware of how it will affect them. New laws effective this month’s end will affect operators of all ages. Check out the following to keep yourself up-to-date and out-of-trouble:

Mobile Phone & Texting Law Effective September 30th 2010:

This new law prohibits drivers of all ages from using any kind of mobile electronic device to write, send, or read electronic messages including text messages, e-mails, instant messages and internet access. Those who disregard this new regulation will face:

  • 1st offense: $100 fine
  • 2nd offense: $250 fine
  • 3rd + offense: $500 fine

Drivers under 18 years of age are also prohibited by this law to make any use of a mobile electronic device for any reason while operating a vehicle. Massachusetts enforcement will only allow this use for reporting an emergency. Teen drivers violating this provision will face:

  • 1st offense: $100 fine & 60-day license suspension and a required attitudinal retraining course
  • 2nd offense:$250 fine & 180-day license suspension
  • 3rd offense: $500 fine & 1 year suspension of license

Operators of all ages may be fined for unsafe use of and impeded operation due to mobile devices. Additionally, drivers must keep one hand on the steering wheel at all times. If caught operating a vehicle with no hands on the wheel or distracted while due to a mobile device you will face the following fines:

  • 1st offense: $35 fine
  • 2nd offense (within 12 months): $75 fine
  • 3rd offense (within 12 months): $150 fine

Further than the previously listed offenses Massachusetts law constitutes personal injury and property damages caused by negligent operation a criminal offense. If you’re involved in an accident or crash as a result of using a mobile electronic device, you will face criminal charges and suspension of your licnese.

Three Surcharges & Suspension Legislature Effective September 30th:

When a driver accrues three surcharge-able violations in a two-year time period their license may face suspension. These qualifying surcharge-able events include moving violations and accidents. Once a third surcharge is incurred in that two-year window, the driver must complete a Driver Retraining Course within 90 days of the notification sent by the RMV.

In Person License Renewals for Those 75+ Years Effective September 30th:

Drivers 75 years of age and older as of September 30th will be required to renew their license in person at an RMV branch. The operator will need to successfully complete a vision test or resent a completed Vision Screening


For additional information on the new driving laws affecting  you please visit the Massachsuetts RMV website at: www.massdot.state.ma.us/rmv/.

Kicking the Habit: Texting & Driving

The Massachusetts texting ban is to take effect October 1st and some drivers have already had difficulty trying to quit. Many texting addicts have already tried to start prying their fingers from a cell phone while driving, here are a few tips on how to keep yourself from the buttons while behind the wheel:

  • Place your phone out of sight or at least arms reach in places like the glove box. If you’re a true texting addict, the trunk may be your phone’s ultimate safe haven.
  • Turn the texting notification tone to silent to ease your texting temptation.
  • If you can still see the screen light up when the ringer is on silent, turn your phone off.
  • Read your directions a couple times before hitting the road, this way you’ll be familiar with the route & have to pull over fewer times to check those texted directions.
  • Two words: designated texter. If you have a friend in the car, have them text for you!
  • Make the ultimate realization that the text message will still be there when you park. Lo and behold, it will say the same thing it did 5, 10 or 20 minutes ago when your phone received it.

Happy and safe driving everyone!

Massachusetts To Ban Texting Behind the Wheel?

The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted 150-1 last week approving a bill that bans texting while driving for all motorists and imposes a new requirement on elderly drivers. Only a day after the Massachusetts House passed the text-banning legislation the Massachusetts Senate voted in agreement passing the measure as well. This piece of legislation will travel onward to Governor Deval Patrick who has also announced he supports the bill and will review the proposal when it reaches his desk.

If passed the legislation will ban texting sate-wide while driving and restrict those under 18 to use a cell phone while driving except in emergencies. Drivers under 18 years of age who are caught texting and driving under this new legislation will face a $100 find on the first offense, $250 on the second, and $500 on the third and all subsequent offenses. The fine and ticket for texting while driving will not be considered a moving violation and thus are not subject to an insurance surcharge.

The proposed bill will also require drivers turning 75 years or older to take their license in to an RMV office to take an eye exam for a renewal and every five years after their 75th birthday. Another key part in the legislation is a provision created to encourage doctors to alert the state when a patient may be dangerous on the roads.

If this bill makes it’s way to law Massachusetts will join 28 other states and the District of Colombia in banning texting behind the wheel.

MIT Joins Fight Against Distracted Driving

From Oprah’s National No Phone Day to commercials during your favorite sitcom, it is widely known cell phone use behind the wheel is a dangerous endeavor. A recent study by the American Automobile Association found the risk of an auto accident increases by approximately 50% while texting behind the wheel. According to a webinar hosted by Neustar 2.5 billion text messages are sent per day in the United States… too many of these from behind the wheel.

Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Transportation, has taken a firm lead in the fight against distracted driving. LaHood took part in the Washington No Phone Zone rally last Friday emphasizing the importance of putting cell phones away while driving. A largely useful suggestion LaHood has made is for driver’s to place their cell phones in the glove box before operating a vehicle. The Secretary has enlisted the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to find a technology with the ability to disable a driver’s cell phone use while not blocking passenger’s cell phone usage.

According to an article in the Washington Post LaHood’s research has uncovered the following facts:

  • Eight in ten drivers talk on the phone behind the wheel.
  • Cell phones are a factor in an estimated 342,000 auto accident injuries per year.
  • The cost of property damage, lost wages, medical bills and lost lives accrues to a whopping $43 billion per year.

Distracted driving is not an issue to take lightly. The Secretary visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge to personally request help in his fight against cell phone related distracted driving. LaHood challenged the students and faculty to build a car that will not crash, design a zero emission greenhouse gas vehicle, and create a green revolution changing the way energy is consumed and generated.

Should Massachusetts Have a Ban on Text Message Driving?

In a recent article in the Boston Globe, writer Derrick Z. Jackson addresses the ongoing movement toward banning text messaging while driving. Nineteen states have already set implemented bans on texting while driving and the national government has also made moves toward nationalizing the movement. President Obama called distracted driving a “deadly epidemic” and a “menace to society.” The President has already banned text-message driving for federal employees.

It doesn’t stop with the President, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says “I’m on a rampage about this, and I’m not going to let up.’’ Even the CTIA, the wireless industry lobbying group, officially supports bans on text messaging while driving. The lobbying group has also adopted a “neutral” stance on bans of all hands/hands-free communication.

The vice president for research at the National Safety Council, John Ulczycki, released a statement to New York Times regarding the matter.

“2009 will go down as the year that we got national consensus on the dangers of texting. Hopefully, 2010 will be the year we get the same level of attention, if not consensus, on the dangers of conversation.’’

A Virginia Tech study showed that texting increases the risk of an accident 23 times and any use of a cell phone quadruples your risk. Even though studies show the facts, legislation has still not been passed to ban or limit the use of cell phones on the road. A city wide ban has been implemented in Boston on text-message driving but drivers all over the state continue to face injury and death due to distracted driving.

Jackson from the Globe believes “Baddour and Wagner,” Massachusetts House and Senate Chairmen, “need to stop negotiating over outdated nuance when we are talking about the hi-tech equivalent of driving drunk.”

Dangers of Texting and Driving

It’s amazing what  younger generations can accomplish with a few clicks of their cell phone. From making plans for the evening and shopping online to ordering a meal to go, texting and smart phones make life more convenient. While the novelty and ease of communication via texting is widely used, the dangers of this activity behind the wheel must be taken seriously. Many may say something to the effect of, “What? It’s not like I’m drinking and driving!” Which is the truth, the reaction time of someone with a blood alcohol content of .08 reacts four times more quickly than when they are texting sober according to a study by CarandDriver. While 17 states ban texting and driving and 7 states ban complete hand held cell use behind the wheel the temptation may still remain.

When the dangers are this evident that even driving drunk may be safer than texting should make someone think twice before picking up that cell phone behind the wheel. If you struggle with the temptation to check that e-mail or text here are a few ways to avoid it:

  • Give yourself a reality check and watch this video the Today Show featured in a texting & driving segment.
  • If you’re trying to find an address, pull over and park before checking your phone.
  • If you have someone in the car with you ask them to help you break the texting habit.
  • Place your cell phone out of reach.
  • If this isn’t enough to stop you, turn your cell phone off.

What Massachusetts Gov't Has to Say About Texting & Driving

Massachusetts DOT has an extensive  list of driving distractions they’ve been aware of for quite some time. From drinking and driving to music on the radio, Massachusetts government is moving texting to the top of that list.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approximately, “80 percent of all accidents are caused by driver inattention.” (DOT to you: Don’t Text and Drive). With technology advancing at lightning speed we have everything from the radio and video displays to our cell phones to distract us.

A recent study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study that found  drivers who texted while driving were 23 times more likely to crash or get into a near-accident than undistracted driver. (Senators Push Nation Wide Ban On Texting While Driving)

Massachusetts Department of Transportation is serious about cutting down distractions. Currently 17 states ban texting and driving, is Massachusetts next? Keep a close eye out September 30th and October 1st when the U.S. Department of transportation convenes in Washington D.C. to discuss it.

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