distracted driving


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 iZUP Application Prevents Distracted Driving

A new technology has arrived to increase driving safety by restricting cell phone use behind the wheel. The clever iZUP (i.e. “eyes up”) application, developed by Illume Software, was created to help eliminate distracted driving. Recent legislation banning texting and driving holds the potential for strict fines and possible license suspensions if caught. Applications restricting phone use behind the wheel may be answer for parents and employers and necessary step for the texting-addicts.

iZUP technology includes the following features to aid in reducing distracted driving:

  • Preventing outgoing text messages, e-mails and phone calls while driving
  • sending incoming calls to voicemail and holding text messages when the vehicle is in motion
  • Prohibiting web browsing and application use while driving
  • Providing password-protected passenger override
  • Allowing three authorized phone numbers (i.e. home, employer, etcetera)
  • Allowing one authorized application (i.e. navigation/ gps)
  • Making emergency 911 quick dial available at all times
  • Automatically unblocking all calls after a 911 call
  • Tamper alert send to an account holder when the user (child or possibly employee) attempts to disable iZUP
  • Sending notification of 911 call to account holder with a map shoving call location and time

More information about iZUP can be found on the provider’s website: www.getizup.com.

RECEIVE AN iZUP DISCOUNT:

MassDrive is proud to announce drivers with a Plymouth Rock policy have the opportunity to receive a 25% discount on iZUP! This discount is just another of the many benefit of the Savings Pass program, a free perk of holding a policy with Plymouth Rock. MassDrive carriers offer unique discounts on insurance and additional products, such as the iZUP application. For a free qutoe contact your friendly MassDrive agent today!

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/.

Massachusetts Roads Remain Among Safest

This past month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported motor vehicle fatalities sharply declined in 2009. At an all time low the fatality rate reported was only 1.13 deaths per every 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Incredibly the total number of deaths is nearing those of 1950 in a time of less traffic, lower populations and shorter commutes.

The report shows a decrease in fatalities of 9.7% while miles traveled from 2008 to 2009 still showed a slight increase. Massachusetts remains one of the safest states to drive as motor vehicle fatalities fell from 354 in 2008 to 334 in 2009. Additionally the number of deaths attributed to alcohol decreased from 120 to 108. The government attributes the fatality decline to many improvements and precautions including: an advancement in vehicle design, increased use of seat belts, and standard air bags included in vehicles that previously lacked air bags.

These statistical improvements are great, however it is important to realized even these numbers can be better. The number of distracted drivers on the road will hopefully decrease further with the recent texting ban. While driving, remember you have the lives of many in your hands. Put the cell phone away, set down your mascara/ razor and focus on the road.

Emergency Vehicles – Move Over & Save a Life

Police across Massachusetts and New Hampshire have announced they will be increasing their efforts in enforcing the laws requiring drivers to move over when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road. State police in New Hampshire report about 25 accidents a year in which troopers or their vehicles were struck by other vehicles when stopped at construction details or traffic stops.

The seriousness of this measure needs to be understood by all. This past July 17th 2010 a Massachusetts trooper was sitting in his cruiser after pulling a driver over when he was struck by another motorist. The second motorist who collided with the trooper’s cruiser was cited on DWI charges however police note distracted driving is one of the greatest factors in these accidents.

New Hampshire and Massachusetts police said they are doing their best to educate drivers of the law requiring motorists to move over a lane when an emergency vehicle’s lights are flashing. The state police have also noted they will be enforcing this law with greater diligence. Some drivers have complained it’s difficult to move over a lane due to additional traffic – in these cases the state police have said the motorist should slow down or face a fine.

Trooper Thomas Lencki was able to escape an accident in 2003 where another motorist crashed into the back of his vehicle:

“I noticed an SUV coming into the breakdown lane at a high rate of speed… I was able to move a little bit to protect myself and the woman, and he hit me at about 78 mph, pushed me into the Jersey barrier and then pushed me into her.”

Distracted driving can have grave consequences. If you see an emergency vehicle flashing lights, move over a lane – you may just save a life.

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.

Phone laws put in the fast lane

Over the past couple years, more and more attention has been brought to the dangers of distracted driving. In particular, using your cell phone while driving. Some states have already made strict rules limiting use to only hands-free devices while other states have not done much. Recent legislation purposed in the House of Representatives would make it illegal to talk on a hand-held cell phone while driving nationwide.

Under this legislation, juvenile drivers would be prohibited from using a cell phone all together, while adult drivers would only be allowed to use hands-free devices.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said driver distraction accounts for 15 percent of highway dealths per year. Further research by the Department of Transportation estimates that drivers who use hand-held devices are 20 times more likely to get in a car accident then those using hands-free devices.

With statistics like these, it seems like the House may have good cause to pass this legislation through. Stay up to date on developments on this story here at MassDrive!

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.”

Preventing Distracted Driving

Massachusetts lost 442 lives to auto accidents in 2005, of these 42% were attributed to impaired drivers. These impaired drivers may have been distracted for a million reasons. Some with a little too much to drink while others chat away on their cell phone. If a driver were to give his or her full attention to the road and surroundings auto accidents would decrease significantly. It’s important to consider the following suggestions when driving, they may just save a life…

  • Here’s the big one: Turn your cell phone OFF. This way you will not be tempted to answer, send a text message, check your calendar, or use it for any other function it has.
  • ABSOLUTELY do not drink and drive. If you do you’re asking for trouble.
  • If you’ve had little to no sleep do not drive.
  • If you insist on listening to music while driving adjust the radio, CD, or mp3 selection before hitting the road.
  • Eat before or after you drive. Don’t be that guy in traffic with one hand on the wheel and the other holding a Big Mac.
  • Allow yourself sufficient time to get from one destination to the next.
  • For all the women out there rushing to make it from one place to the next despite the last tip, believe me I understand being in a rush, but please apply your make up before operating an automobile or after you’ve parked not in traffic. It’s better to be a couple minutes late, than a few hours from an accident.
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