At the US Department of Transportation’s Distracted Driving Summit this week, family members who lost loved ones in car accidents involving drivers who were distracted spoke to attendees about their tragedies. One woman lost her mother of a driver who was talking on his cell phone. Another woman, a motorcyclist, was killed when she was struck at a red light by a driver who was painting her nails. And of course, there are the accounts of loved ones lost because drivers were texting while driving, reaching for a cell phone, or glancing at a PDA to “quickly” read a text message.
According to the NHTSA, almost 6,000 people died in distracted driving accidents last year. Over 500,000 others survived these auto accidents with injuries. As one man who lost his mother told the summit, “distracted drivers destroy lives.” Yet many drivers continue to engage in some form of distracted driving.
Talking on a cell phone and texting while driving have proven especially dangerous, and calls for a nationwide ban on texting has become more urgent. The CTIA-The Wireless Association reports that 110 billion texts were sent out in December 2008. Compare this figure to the 10 billion texts that were transmitted in December 2005.
On Wednesday, the Obama Administration announced that federal workers will no longer be allowed to text message while operating a motor vehicle while on the job or in a government-owned auto. According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the government is also considering restricting truck drivers, train operators, and bus drivers from using cell phones.
In Massachusetts, there is still no ban on text messaging. Localities are allowed to decide whether to restrict cell phone use. Earlier this year, the Boston area’s transit authority announced a new policy change banning bus, trolley, and train operators from carrying cell phones and personal electronic devices while they are on the clock. The crackdown came after a trolley operator who was text messaging caused aBoston train accident that injured 49 people.
Boston car drivers are allowed to talk on handheld devices and text message while driving an auto. This can result in serious Massachusetts traffic accidents and personal injuries and wrongful deaths may ensue.
Cell Phone Ban After Boston Trolley Crash, Huffington Post, May 9, 2009
New regulation bans federal employees from texting while driving, Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Distracted Driving, National Safety Council
The Dangers of Distracted Driving, www.carinsurance.org
State Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association
An Examination of Driver Distraction as Recorded in NHTSA Database (PDF)
Contact our Boston injury law firm to discuss your case.