According to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one out of every five car accidents causing an injury is caused by a distracted driver, and 16% of all fatal automobile accidents also involved distracted driving, and Massachusetts is no exception. New Bedford, Fall River, Providence and other high-traffic cities require our full attention behind the wheel. Let’s take a look at the laws regarding texting and driving in MA & RI, as well as some other common types of distracted driving habits.
Texting While Driving Laws In Massachusetts & Rhode Island
In both Massachusetts and Rhode Island all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. This means that the operator of a motor vehicle cannot use any mobile telephone or handheld device capable of accessing the Internet to write, send, or read an electronic message including text messages, emails, and instant messages or to access the internet while operating a vehicle. These laws apply even while the vehicle is stopped in traffic. Here are the fines per offense, per state:
- In Massachusetts: 1st offense-$100, 2nd offense-$250, 3rd or subs offense-$500
- In Rhode Island (Under 18): 1st or 2nd offense-$50, 3rd and subsequent offenses-$100 with license suspension until the age of 18
- In Rhode Island (Over 18): 1st offense-$85, 2nd offense-$100, 3rd and subsequent offenses-$125
Other Common Types of Distracted Driving
Statistics show that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds can double your risk of being in a car accident. Unfortunately, most drivers engaging in distracted behaviors are losing sight of the road long enough to quadruple their risk of an accident.
Car Stereos – Although adjusting the radio is a common task while driving, having preset stations and exercising common sense can help eliminate this distraction. Remember, it only takes a second or two of distraction from the road to cause or fail to avoid a car accident.
Passengers – Whether it’s turning around to talk to your kids or looking at the person sitting in your passenger seat, the NHTSA estimates that talking to passengers was the leading distraction in 7,000 crashes annually. This especially effects younger teen drivers. Teach your teen drivers to ask their friends to keep it calm back there while they focus on driving.
GPS Devices – Even with the helpful intention of navigating drivers to their destination, GPS devices can present a major distraction because they require the same type of visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver as sending a text message, they’re potentially just as dangerous. Try to follow the audio cues and if you find yourself confused, pull over and get your bearings.
Eating & Drinking – Recent studies show that when it comes to reducing a driver’s reactions, snacking while driving was on par with using a smart phone or tablet. The mental workload required to manage messy food, drink and wrappers while driving is significantly raised, meaning that drivers who consume en route have a greatly reduced ability to deal with sudden factors which could lead to a car accident.
Other common examples include smoking, grooming, dropping something, or even reading a newspaper or book. Regardless of the activity, keeping attention focused on the task at hand and eliminating unnecessary distractions can have a major impact on a driver’s overall safety and help you to avoid distracted driving car accidents.
Contact An Experienced New Bedford Car Accident Attorney
If you or a family member have been injured any type of a car accident due to a distracted driver’s negligence, contact us to speak with one of our experienced attorneys. We’ll help you to get the settlement that you deserve.
*The above is not to be considered as legal advice. Every case is different and the laws which apply may differ from state to state.