As we wait out this snowstorm, you may be checking your smart phone more than usual. This is understandable. But how often do you check on an average weekday? One report shows Americans are checking their smart phones every 12 minutes or 80 times a day. And between Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, we all know someone who may check even more often.
Use your smart phones as often as you want – except in the car. Please consider these thoughts as you wait out the snow:
Can I receive a ticket for using my cell phone in the car in Massachusetts?
In 15 states, drivers are banned from all cell phone use in the car. In Massachusetts and 46 other states, drivers are banned from texting while driving. Massachusetts has banned texting while driving since September 30, 2010, when the Safe Driving Law took effect. However, talking on a handheld cell phone is legal in Massachusetts, even though any cell phone use can be distracting and cause a car accident.
Drivers can receive a ticket if they are stopped for texting while driving. The ticket comes with a fine of $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for a third or subsequent offense. Junior operators – drivers who are 16 1/2 to 18 years old – are not allowed to use cell phones at all and face more severe penalties, starting with a 60-day license suspension, a $100 fine and attitudinal retraining for the first offense.
For the second offense, teens can lose their license for 180 days and have to pay a $250 fine. For the 3rd of subsequent offense, they lose their license for a year and have to pay a $500 fine.
How often are people using smart phones?
Very often. Asurion, a global tech company, reported on smart phone user habits last November. The company surveyed 2,000 users and found they reached for their phones on average every 12 minutes or 80 times a day. One in 10 people checked their phone every four minutes. In addition, 31 percent of survey participants had separation anxiety when away from their phones. The longest any participant was prepared to go without their phone? Four hours (that one sounds fairly reasonable to us, if you are not driving).
Participants also prioritized their smart phone over sweets. Some 62 percent said they would rather lose chocolate for a week than their cell phone for a day.
How often are people using cell phones in the car?
Zendrive, a driving analytics company, conducted a three-month analysis of three million drivers. The company reported drivers used cell phones on 88 percent of the trips analyzed. On average, drivers spend 3.5 minutes on the phone per one hour trip.
How can I stop my teenager from texting while driving?
Your teenagers may use their cell phones more often than anyone else in your house. You may want to encourage your teenager to take breaks from their smart phone so it doesn’t have such a strong hold.
You can also make your teen earn their driving privileges. Gradually build up to allowing them to drive with friends or go further than school so they understand that it is a responsibility. You can also explain the law. In Massachusetts, junior operators – drivers between 16 ½ and 18 years old – face harsher penalties for cell phone use and texting. As we mentioned above, they can lose their license on the first offense.
Then, you can share safety resources and tell them you want to save them from the life-changing experience of injuring someone or causing themselves harm. AT&T has its It Can Wait campaign, which shows stories from drivers who made the mistake and the victims who suffered the very serious consequences.
Finally, you can set a good example for your teenager. Always put your cell phone in your bag in the backseat when you are driving with them.
The good news about cell phones is you can turn them off and everyone in your family will be safer. Here are a few tips for when you step back outside after the storm:
- Turn your cell phone off while driving.
- Limit use of Bluetooth devices and infotainment systems. They are legal, but they can still be distracting.
- Take a few apps off your cell phone so you have fewer reasons to reach for your phone.
- If you play games on your cell phone, consider installing them on a different device if you have one. Play them at home.
- Do not be a distracted passenger. Make light conversation or carry a magazine if you are traveling far.
- Ask your family members to put the phone away too.
- Map out your directions before you get in the car. If you are busy, ask your teenager to help you.
- If you must check your cell phone, pull over in a safe place to check your phone. Choose a place where you can safely park and turn off your engine.
- Do not reach for your cell phone or glance at it at traffic lights or intersections.
- Finally, choose your times to engage in social media. Do not actively engage before you start commuting home. Instead, come up with a time each day (or a few times a day) when you can safely respond or chat with social media friends or check e-mail.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston car accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured in motor vehicle crashes in Massachusetts. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
On Thursday, the committee voted 8-0 to move forward the bill which advocates say will reduce car accidents, driving injuries and motor vehicle deaths. Some lawmakers did not vote on the ban, which was also discussed in 2010. That year, a new law took effect to reduce motor vehicle accidents by banning drivers under 18 from using cell phones to talk or text. All other drivers were banned from texting while driving.
Under the proposed cell phone ban, drivers would still be allowed to use hands-free cell phones with Bluetooth and other devices. Many safety advocates say hands-free cell phones are safer and this type of ban will help police better enforce the law. Right now, police say it is difficult to differentiate between drivers dialing a phone number and sending a text message.
As a result, police only wrote 1,100 tickets for texting while driving in the law’s first year, according to the Department of Transportation. This averages one for every 200 speeding tickets issued among Massachusetts’ 4.7 million drivers in the same period.
The hand-held cell phone ban will now be sent to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate. The Ways and Means Committee may also consider the financial aspects of it.
If approved, Massachusetts will become the 10th state to ban any type of cell phone use while driving.
The national debate over cell phone use and car accidents has been growing stronger.
In December, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for a nationwide ban on driver use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) while operating a motor vehicle. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said he opposed including hands-free cell phones.
Click here to read more about the proposed hand-held cell phone ban in The Boston Globe.