Has Massachusetts’ hands-free distracted driving law improved safety?

by | Jul 6, 2021 | Car Accidents

It has been about 17 months since the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ hands-free driving law went into effect. The law prohibits drivers from using their hands to operate a smartphone or other electronic device. Using voice commands and other hands-free options are still allowed, except for drivers under 18.

The statute also requires law enforcement to share violation data with the public, which the Registry of Motor Vehicles recently did. The agency announced that, as of June 21, police had issued 53,638 citations under the hands-free law. The vast majority, 40,181, cited drivers for distracted driving.

Mostly first offenses

It appears that the vast majority of those tickets were for a first offense. A second or third violation requires the offender to complete an online training program on how to avoid driving while distracted. They also have to pay a $250 or $500 fine, depending on how many previous violations they have. Just 161 people have been ordered to take the online course, and 74 have completed it.

The government report shows how big of a problem distracted driving is in Massachusetts. From 2015-19, 204 distracted drivers were involved in crashes that killed a total of 216 people. This put the commonwealth 27th out of the 50 states.

Distractions like a smartphone affect a driver in a similar way to alcohol as far as focus and awareness are concerned, distracted driving accidents tend to happen during the week, while DUI crashes happen most often on Fridays through Sundays when more people are drinking at restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Nonfatal distracted driving wrecks also cause damage

Fortunately, not every distracted driving car accident takes away a life. But many times, distracted drivers cause serious injuries that can lead to permanent disabilities for their victims. The unfortunate targets of distracted drivers may be left in terrible pain, physical limitation or both. Their ability to work and live independently may be compromised.


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