Governor Charlie Baker Proposes Ban on Cell Phone Usage While Driving

In 2016, an estimated 481,000 drivers operated a vehicle while also holding a mobile device. With an increase in usage comes an increase in injuries caused by distracted drivers.  It is no surprise, then, that lawmakers and officials are paying more attention to distracted driving and other risky driving behaviors. In order to address the sharp increase in phone use while driving, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has recently proposed a ban on the use of hand held devices while driving. The proposed ban seeks to address a wide range of phone usage, including calling, surfing the web, and generally looking at the phone screen.  Under Baker’s proposal, it would still be legal utilize hands-free calling while driving, and to perform “one touch” functions on the phone, such as unlocking and connecting to a hands-free device.  It would be illegal to hold the phone while driving for any other purpose.

Proponents of the stricter law on cell phone use claim that the law would simply bring Massachusetts in line with neighboring states like Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York.  The current Massachusetts law, which bans only texting, still leaves motorists exposed to the dangers posed by drivers who are reading on their phones, talking, and performing any of the other functions our phones can perform.

Undoubtedly, there is a strong safety interest in reducing distracted driving.  The Massachusetts RMV details the three types of distractions associated with driving: visual (looking away from the road), manual (removing a hand/hands from the steering wheel), and cognitive (anything preventing one from focusing completely on driving safely). The RMV explains how all of these factors are present when one texts and drives, but these are also present in hand-held cell phone usage. With one or a combination of these factors, individuals open themselves up to the possibility of severely injuring themselves, fellow passengers, as well as other individuals who are driving, biking, or walking within the vicinity.

Though people are aware of the dangers associated with texting and driving, some may not realize that talking on the phone can be just as dangerous. A study by Zendrive, the largest and most comprehensive distracted driving study ever done, explains that only two seconds worth of distracted driving increases the likelihood of a crash by more than twenty times. The time it takes take to unlock your phone or to dial can easily exceed two seconds, and the consequences can be disastrous.

While having a law in place may lead Massachusetts in the right direction, there is still work to be done. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages independent action, such as being vocal about theses dangers at school, at work, and at home. Laws certainly deter people, but hearing from a peer or a loved one may contribute significantly to one’s decision of whether or not they will choose to engage in such risky behavior.

What Should You Do if You are in an Accident?

If you have been injured in a car accident that was the result of someone using a cellphone while operating a vehicle, a Massachusetts car accident attorney can help you understand your options.  Our attorneys can help people injured in car accidents in all phases of their claim.  We can remove the headache of dealing with insurance adjustors.  Beyond that, we will dedicate our firm’s significant resources to getting injured clients top dollar for their cases. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Mirick O’Connell today if you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident.  We will provide a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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