Driving, even in perfect weather conditions and under the best of circumstances, is an inherently dangerous activity. On the other end of the spectrum, distracted driving is routinely cited as the leading source in the increase in car accidents over the past several years. With the constant availability of technology to send and receive information, driving with minimal attention on the road is an issue that can be observed all the time. Of course, distractions existed well before smartphones were invented. Some common examples that can still pose issues with drivers today include: changing the radio, applying makeup, looking at outside buildings/scenery, and eating. The difference that there seems to be with smartphones is the combination of looking down and taking one hand off the wheel, as well as the repeated number of times this can occur within a single trip. Laws have been enacted, including in Massachusetts, to ban this type of behavior in hopes of making an impact on rising car accident rates. The police in Norwell recently executed an operation to enforce distracting driver laws by staging officers to look for drivers using electronic devices and issuing citations when caught. Distracted driving poses a danger to both the person performing this activity and others on the road, and a discussion of Massachusetts distracted driving laws, as well as ways to prove this was a factor in a car accident, will follow below.
Distracted Driving Laws in Massachusetts
Beginning back in 2010, Massachusetts banned drivers from the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices while a vehicle is in operation. The specific activities the law prohibits are sending, writing, reading messages, but it does not apply to stationary vehicles or vehicles that are not located on a public roadway used for travel. Further, any driver under the age of 18 is completely prohibited from using a phone for any purpose, even if it is set up to be hands-free unless it is an emergency situation. While these provisions relate to acts prohibited by the law, and cannot prove a driver’s liability for an injury on their own, demonstrating this activity was going on prior to the crash does strongly suggest the driver was negligent.
Proving Distracted Driving Contributed to an Accident in Massachusetts
All drivers owe a duty of care to operate their vehicles in a safe and reasonable manner, and this includes not engaging in activities that divert attention from what should be the principal focus – driving. Failure to uphold this duty, when it leads to an injury, could make the driver liable for the victim’s damages. Evidence a driver was using his/her cell phone to text, read email, or access the internet are signs that he/she was not paying attention to the road, and consequently, creating a hazard to other drivers. Some common types of evidence used to prove the factor of distracted driving in a car accident are:
- Witness statements – It is not uncommon for witnesses to an accident to stay at the scene and make statements to law enforcement about what they observed. Seeing the driver looking down, turning away from the wheel, or reaching into another area of the car serve as strong signs the driver was not paying attention to the road.
- Cell Phone Records – These records can show if information was being sent or received during the time of the accident.
- Video Recordings – Cameras are ubiquitous in today’s world, and if a recording of the crash can be located, it could show images of the driver using a phone or other unsafe behavior.
Speak to a New Bedford Car Accident Attorney
Distracted driving is a dangerous issue, and if you were injured from an accident that likely included this behavior, you need to speak to a car accident attorney about your options. This behavior is not acceptable, and your injuries should be compensated if this is true in your situation. Goldberg & Weigand, LLP knows the struggles of recovering from a collision and will fight to get you the compensation that you deserve. Contact the premier New Bedford personal injury attorneys at (508) 203-6600 for a free consultation.
Attorney Peter M. Goldberg is the founder of and managing partner at Goldberg & Weigand, LLP, and has been in private practice since 1986. He takes pride in the fact he deals directly with his clients on a daily basis working to get their cases resolved to the fullest extent of their rights. Peter practices personal injury law and workers compensation law in Massachusetts.