Distracted driving, specifically texting while driving, accounts for 25% of all car crashes (according to the National Highway Safety Administration). Yet most teen drivers surveyed by Students Against Drunk Driving and Liberty Mutual Insurance believed there is nothing unsafe about it. In fact, over 62% of the high school students surveyed admitted to texting while driving. The first step to addressing this problem is education. All drivers need to understand the dangers and penalties of texting while driving in MA.
Why Cell Phones Are a Major Distraction
Multitasking is a major distraction for most motorists. First and foremost, if one hand is used to hold a cell phone, a driver’s ability to control the wheel and react to situations on the road is reduced by having only one hand on the wheel. Furthermore, having a conversation on the phone reduces a driver’s reaction time, regardless of whether one hand is on a phone or if a hands-free headset is used. This factor is multiplied in emotional conversations. There is simply no way a caller can adequately do the complex work of driving – scanning the road, monitoring traffic movements, reading road signs, adjusting speed, following distance, and other variables – while on a call.
Dangers of Texting While Driving
Texting multiplies the deficits of distracted driving and adds a few more. Your eyes are not on the road when they are looking at a cell phone. Finding and selecting characters on a keyboard can take several seconds per character, which is far too long to have your eyes off the road. A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has found that while texting, 4.6 of every 6 seconds are spent looking at the phone instead of the road. At 55 mph, that’s equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded. So deciding whether to retrieve a dropped phone could literally be a matter of life or death.
Penalties of Texting While Driving in MA
In the state of Massachusetts, it is illegal to text while driving. Many other states and individual cities have enacted similar legislation. If you are caught texting while driving in MA, at a minimum, you will receive a ticket (and of course, your car insurance rate will increase). The bigger danger is that you may cause an accident and may be deemed criminally negligent for resulting injuries. In June 2012, a Massachusetts driver was convicted of motor vehicle homicide by texting, was sentenced to two years in prison, and lost his license for 15 years.
In the bigger scheme of things, the dangers and penalties of texting while driving in MA outweigh the importance of any messages that you might receive while on the road. For the safety of you and everyone around you, if you need to read or send an important text message, park your vehicle in a safe location first!