In 10 days, it will be against the law to text message while driving in Massachusetts. Teen drivers under age 18 won’t be allowed to use mobile electronic devices at all. Emailing and using the Internet while driving will become illegal for everyone.
Meantime, the US Department of Transportation is continuing its nationwide campaign to stop distracted driving. Today, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood opened the Second National Distracted Driving Summit today in Washington DC. At the conference, legislators, transportation officials, researchers, automakers, law enforcement, and survivors of distracted driving crashes are addressing not just texting while driving but also other tasks that motorists have been known to do while driving, such as putting on makeup, eating, and toying with other electronic devices. Also this week, the US Department of Transportation released its 2009 data on distracted driving accidents.
2009 US Distracted Driving Facts:
• 959,000 US motor vehicle crashes last year reportedly involved distracted drivers.
• LaHood notes the actual number of distracted driving crashes could be a lot higher. Many incidents go unreported and police in many states don’t document when driver inattention is a factor in causing a collision.
• 4,898 of these auto crashes resulted in at least one fatality.
• There were 5,474 distracted driving-related deaths.
• Distracted driving was a factor in 16% of the total US traffic crash deaths in 2009.
• Some 500,000 auto crash injuries occurred during distracted-driving related accidents.
While the number of distracted driving-related traffic deaths did go down by 6% between 2008 and 2009, LaHood says that the latest figures still show that driving while multitasking continues to remain an epidemic. Just this year, the National Safety Council, in its January study, found that at least 200,000 US traffic crashes annually are caused by drivers while they text. Another 1.4 million collisions involve motorists using cell phones.
Massachusetts will be the 30th US state to pass a statewide ban on texting.
Boston motor vehicle crashes involving distracted driving have already claimed one too many lives.
As ban nears, state spreads word against driver texting, Boston.com, September 21, 2010
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Kicks Off Second National Distracted Driving Summit, NHTSA, September 21, 2010
Distracted-Driving Deaths Fall 6%, Remain at `Epidemic’ Level, U.S. Says, Bloomberg, September 20, 2010
Related Web Resources:
Distracted Driving Summit, Distraction.gov
Cell Phone Laws, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
National Safety Council
Our Boston injury law firm represents Massachusetts car accident victims and their families that have been hurt or lost a loved one because another motorist was reckless, careless, or negligent.