The term “distracted driving” encompasses many unsafe driving behaviors. Generally, it includes anything that encourages the driver to take their eyes off the road and/or think about something besides their important driving activities. All distractions have the potential to cause accidents and injuries or fatalities.
- Texting / emailing / World Wide Web browsing
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Most states now have laws or are contemplating laws that ban some form of distracted driving.
Current Massachusetts Law
Texting While Driving is against the law - The Safe Driving Law became effective on Sept 30, 2010. The law bans the following:
- Sending electronic messages to or from handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle.
- Typing electronic messages to or from handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle.
- Reading electronic messages to or from handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle.
Penalties for violating the law.
- Usage by a junior operator
- 1st offense $100, 60-day suspension and driver retraining course
- 2nd offense $250, 180-day suspension
- Improper usage by operators 18 and over
- 1st offense, $35 assessment
- 2nd offense in 12 months - $75 assessment
- Sending / reading text messages
- 1st offense - $100
For further details of additional violations related to distracted driving read the Summary of the Safe Driving Law.
Apps to Prevent or Discourage Distractions to Driving
There are numerous smartphone apps that help you be less distracted while you drive. They generally fall into two camps. Those that prevent certain functions from working while you drive and those that measure your driving skills and give you feedback as to how often you distract yourself with your phone.