Welcome news today as the Massachusetts Legislature has finally agreed on a new law that will make it illegal to text while driving. Once the bill is signed by the Governor, Massachusetts will be in line with twenty-eight other states that have already outlawed text messaging while driving.
This law comes in the wake of several tragic text message-based accidents. In May 2009, 62 people suffered personal injury after a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority trolley collided with another trolley because the driver was texting his girlfriend. In September 2008, a California commuter train engineer missed a stop signal while trading texts with a friend, leading to a train accident resulting in the wrongful death of 25 people. In addition, there have been several high profile motor vehicle wrongful death cases in recent memory which were caused by inattentive drivers who were texting as they drove.
The law has several other public safety improvements. The new law will require that older drivers renew their licenses in person and take an eye exam every five years beginning at age 75. Older drivers were involved in several serious car accidents in 2009 in Massachusetts. Further, the law will forbid anyone under the age of 18 from using a cell phone while driving.
Boston personal injury attorney David White said of the new law, “Distracted driving is a serious safety problem. The use of cell phones and text messaging are two of the biggest distractions for drivers. These new provisions will vastly increase the safety of Massachusetts roadways.”
A recent study found that texting while driving makes a person twenty times more likely to get into a car crash or near-crash. The problem is most severe for inexperienced drivers. It is hoped that this new law will raise awareness to this growing epidemic of serious personal injuries caused by careless texting motorists.
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