TEXTING AND DRIVING
Driving-related accidents have been on the rise in the past few years and traffic safety experts have attributed such accidents to distracted drivers. A recent study has shown that texting while driving makes an individual twenty times more like to be involved in a car crash or near-crash. Driving is a task that requires an individual to stay focused and engaged in the moment, including the surroundings and the situation changes in it. This fact is disturbed by the fact that some drivers habitually use their mobile phones during driving. Texting and using mobile phones distract drivers’ focus and engagement to the moment as well as disconnects them from the surroundings and the situation. This is an extremely hazardous thing to do behind the wheels as it does not only put their life in dangers but also that of the passengers and other motorists on the road.
Starting September 30, 2010, Massachusetts makes it illegal to text while driving. The new law makes it illegal for any driver to use phones, handheld devices with internet access, as well as the act of composing, sending or reading electronic messages such as emails, SMS, instant messages while driving. The new law does not ban the use of a cellular phone for making telephone calls, as long as one had remained at the steering wheel at all times.
Additionally, the new law imposes stricter restrictions on individuals under the age of 18 years old. The new law bars drivers under age 18 from using any mobile electronic device while driving, which includes phone calls. However, the law does contain a number of very limited exceptions for emergency situations.
Penalties for Texting while Driving
While the Massachusetts law gives consideration for emergency cases, other conditions pertaining to texting and the use of mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited. “Junior operators”, those driving who are under the age of 18 with a corresponding learner’s permit or provisional licenses are strictly prohibited from using cell phones whether handheld or hands-free while driving. The junior operator prohibition is not only limited to cell phones but also to selected electronic devices. In cases of emergencies, drivers are encouraged to pull over and stop the vehicle to report the emergency. Below is the summary of fines for junior operators and drivers in general:
|FREQUENCY OF OFFENSE
||$100, 60-day suspension of license, Attitudinal course
||$250, 180-day suspension of license
|3rd or subsequent offense
||$500, 1-year suspension of license
As repeatedly mentioned above, all drivers regardless of age are prohibited from using mobile phones while driving. The law applies even if the vehicle is stopped in traffic. Fines for non-novice drivers are basically the same except that there are no graduated license suspensions.
Furthermore, texting while driving is classified as a primary law offense which means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation.
What to do?
Virtually everyone has a mobile phone or gadget and everyone connects to the internet for a variety of reasons at any given time. This should not be the case when driving on the road as it does not only endanger the life of the driver but also that of the passengers and other third party road user as well as potential damages on property. Experienced traffic attorneys of our firm provide quality services which can help a ticketed driver fight against the consequences by attempting to have the ticket dropped and penalties withdrawn.