Boston Distracted Driving Accident Attorney
Starting in the 1970s, the rate of car accidents and injuries started going down every year thanks to safety technologies like seatbelts, airbags and crash sensors, cars built to be more crash-resistant, and tough laws on speeding and drinking and driving. Then, in 2010, something happened. Accidents started going up again, and they’ve been going up every year since, even during the pandemic, traffic has been lighter.
What’s the reason for the change? No one knows for sure, but many safety researchers point to the increase in driver distractions from smartphones and in-vehicle “infotainment” systems. Along with the rise in smartphones and their capabilities for sending and receiving texts, emails and instant messages has been the rise in social media apps that captivate our attention and constantly invite us to check in with status updates and notifications. Accident causes like speeding and drinking and driving and general negligence (failure to yield, following too close, failing to signal) haven’t gone away, but the increase in distracted driving is a dangerous addition that has likely contributed to or caused the increase in traffic accidents, injuries and deaths over the past decade.
At the Law Office of Joseph R. Linnehan, Jr., we have been helping distracted driving car accident victims in Boston since before there were smartphones, and even then people engaged in dangerously distracting behaviors behind the wheel, such as eating, reading the paper, looking at maps, shaving or putting on makeup, getting into deep discussions with passengers or getting distracted by the kids in the back seat. We have seen every type of distracted driving behavior and have successfully helped thousands of car accident injury victims recover compensation from negligent drivers who caused a wreck through their negligence. If you believe another driver’s distracted driving caused your accident, we have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to prove it and get you a settlement or verdict that reflects your needs and helps you deal with your loss. Call us for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been hurt in an auto accident in Boston.
The Dangers of Distracted driving
Safety researchers classify distracted driving according to the type of distraction involved, be it visual, manual or cognitive.
Visual distraction means your eyes are on something else besides the road. Looking at your phone is a visual distraction, as is looking at your GPS, looking at work papers, or looking at the other passengers in your car. Someone driving down the highway at 60 miles per hour covers nearly 30 yards in one second. That means if they take their eyes off the road for three seconds, they’ve covered practically the length of a football field without looking. That’s more than enough time to cause a dangerous or deadly accident.
Manual distraction means your hands are on something else besides the steering wheel. The biggest manual distractions include eating, grooming, reaching for an object in the car, programming your GPS, typing out a message on your smartphone, or launching an app.
Cognitive distraction means your attention is on something else besides the task of driving. Reading or responding to a text or email, checking your social media, tuning the radio, conversing with passengers, or talking on the phone are all cognitive distractions. Thinking about home life or work or rehearsing a speech in your head is also cognitively distracting. Engaging with a smartphone or a vehicle’s entertainment system, even entirely through voice commands, is so cognitively distracting that it takes on average 27 seconds to return focus to the road, according to a university study conducted with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
To make matters worse, most distracting behaviors involve a combination of two or even all kinds of distractions, increasing the likelihood of a distracted driving crash.
Boston Car Accidents and Massachusetts Distracted Driving Laws
Massachusetts adopted a hands-free driving law that went into effect in 2020. That means no handheld use of any electronic device, including mobile phones. Fines go from $100 to $250 to $500 for a first, second or third offense. A second offense includes a mandatory distracted driving educational program, and a third offense includes this program plus an insurance surcharge.
Under the law, you cannot hold or support any electronic device or phone and are only allowed to touch the device to activate the GPS or hands-free mode. You can’t touch the phone unless it is mounted to the car in a safe manner, but no texting, emailing, apps, video or internet are allowed regardless. If you are in your vehicle and in a travel lane or bicycle lane, you cannot hold your phone, even if you are fully stopped at a stop sign or red light.
Drivers under 18 cannot use any electronic devices while driving in any way, shape or form, including hands-free.
The only exception to the law is if using the phone to call 911 to report an emergency, and even then, drivers are encouraged to safely pull over and stop first if possible.
When drivers violate traffic safety laws and cause a crash, their moving violation is strong evidence of their fault and liability. If you were hurt in a crash by a driver who was cited for violating the hands-free law, we can use that evidence to prove their negligence and recover compensation on your behalf. However, even if they were not cited, we can still conduct our own investigation to determine whether cellphone use or some other distraction caused the accident. We have many ways of proving the driver’s negligence and liability to you for the injuries caused, including using investigators or experts as needed to build a strong case and recover a significant amount of compensation to help you deal with the harm inflicted on you.
Get the Help You Need After a Distracted Driving Auto Accident in Boston
Distracted driving is negligent driving, and distracted drivers can and should be held liable for the injuries and accidents they cause. If you have been injured in a Boston auto accident with a distracted driver, call the Law Office of Joseph R. Linnehan, Jr. at 617-275-4200 for a free consultation.