Car Accidents Caused by Cell Phone Use
Driving while talking on a cell phone is a dangerous practice and can lead to serious car accidents. First, Massachusetts passed a ban on texting while driving. Now, the state has passed hands-free legislation. But some drivers are still using cell phones and this factors into many car accidents. These drivers can be held liable when they cause injuries to others.
How prevalent is the problem cell phone use in cars? The National Safety Council reports cell phone use has been involved in 1.3 million car accidents during a single year. This includes 1.2 million traffic accidents were caused by drivers talking on cell phones, while texting while driving accounted for the rest.
The National Safety Council also reported that fatal car accidents rose in Massachusetts in 2016. There were 399 deaths reported, up from 354 deaths in 2015. Experts told The Boston Globe that cell phone use likely contributed to this increase.
Massachusetts Cell Phone Driving Laws
22 states now ban hand-held cell phone use by drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Massachusetts has banned texting while driving since 2010. Only in 2020 did the state go hands-free. Advocates made the push for hands-free because the texting while driving ban was inadequate in addressing safety. Drivers were still causing too many cell phone related accidents.
Under the Massachusetts Hands-Free Law, drivers are only permitted to use cell phones in hands-free mode. Drivers are granted one swipe to activate phones, then they must use voice-activated technology.
Drivers are not allowed to reach for their phones for GPS, under the hands-free law. Instead, they must use their in-vehicle system connected to their cell phone or mount their phones to the vehicle dashboard. Drivers have to follow the hands-free law when driving and when stopped at traffic lights.
The Massachusetts Hands-Free Driving Law has penalties. Drivers who are stopped for hand-held cell phone use can be cited and fined $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and up to $500 for third and subsequent offenses. Drivers may also have to attend driver re-training courses.
In 2022, a Massachusetts state senator proposed an amendment to the hands-free law, which would ban "vlogging," or recording or broadcasting while driving. This was proposed after a driver using a video chat tool hit and killed a cyclist in a bike crash in Northampton.
The hands-free law doesn't change the rules for teen drivers, or junior operators, in Massachusetts. They are still not allowed to use cell phones to talk or text, not even through voice-activated technology.
No state bans cell phone use entirely. But many U.S. companies have worked to do so. As of March 2017, more than 460 U.S. companies had implemented policies banning employees from using cell phones when driving during work hours (Source: Chicago Tribune column March 2017). Beyond this, drivers in certain industries, such as truck drivers and school bus drivers, are prohibited from hand-held cell phone use under state or federal law.
Liability of Drivers Who Use Cell Phones and Cause Accidents
Massachusetts drivers can be held liable when they cause a car accident. Drivers have a responsibility to focus on the road and operate with reasonable care. Using a cell phone takes a driver's attention off the road and other vehicles. Drivers also endanger pedestrians and cyclists.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured in Cell Phone-Related Car Accident
If you have been injured in a Massachusetts car accident caused by cell phone use, you may be able entitled to recover monetary damages, including pain and suffering, lost wages and past and future medical expenses. You may be able to pursue compensation through the driver's Massachusetts auto insurance policy. In some cases, a victim can also pursue other sources of compensation, such as the insurance policy for an employer or business which contributed to the accident.
Receive immediate medical treatment after any car crash. You should also speak to a qualified Boston car accident lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights. Individuals injured in car accidents have a Statute of Limitations restricting how long they can file a claim. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys can determine whether you have a case, then start investigating and make contact with police.
In many cases, the car accident victim or their attorney has to come forward and alert police that a driver may have been using a cell phone at the time of a crash. There may not be other witnesses and the police report and traffic citations can play a key role in your claim against the driver.
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers are ready to assist those injured by negligent driving and cell phone use. We are experienced in all aspects of handling cases related to cell phone use, from accident investigation to preparing your claim to trial and appeals if necessary.
Contact our Boston legal team today
For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck today at 866-276-3654 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.