Police are cracking down on texting while driving — even if you’re at a stoplight. Fines start at $100, but the results can be much more serious if you’re in an accident.
But police want Massachusetts drivers to know they’re on the lookout for people who break the law by checking email and texting behind the wheel.
New Campaign Takes Aim at Texting
The state Highway Safety Division is working with state and local law-enforcement officers on the new anti-texting effort. In 140 of the state’s cities and towns, officers are cracking down on distracted driving through the end of April.
It’s all part of a national campaign with an apt name: “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” More than $600,000 in federal funds will defray the costs of devoting local officers to the effort.
Think only teens text and drive?
Not so, officials say. Adults are the most-frequent culprits. And drivers who think they can get away with stealthy texting may be surprised: Many well-trained officers’ eyes will be watching.
The Tragic Toll of Texting while Driving
Texting may seem like a harmless activity, but it poses a serious safety threat. Between 2010 and 2013, more than 180 people died in Massachusetts vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers.
One of those killed was Howard Stein, who died five years ago when a teen driver was distracted by a GPS unit. She crashed into Stein’s car on Route 2 in the breakdown lane.
Stein’s daughter, Emily Stein, now runs an advocacy group called Safe Roads Alliance. The group backs pending legislation to prohibit talking on cell phones except when using hands-free technology.
Another crash that police blame on distracted driving is the subject of a recent video. In the video, a driver begins filming as another driver allegedly cuts him off because she is distracted while texting.
This is crazy:
The woman then crosses the center line, crashing into a vehicle occupied by a couple and an infant.
Thankfully, no serious injuries resulted. Police said the woman who allegedly caused the crash will be cited for traffic violations and for sending or reading text messages while driving.
The Law in Massachusetts: Texting and Driving
In 2010, Massachusetts outlawed texting while driving. The ban was part of a safe driving law that also made it illegal for drivers younger than 18 to use a cell phone while behind the wheel.
How many people are caught texting and driving?
Enforcement is getting stricter, and the numbers are going up. In 2013, police issued 3,350 citations. In 2015? More than 6,100.
And drivers who think it’s fine to text at red lights are mistaken, police say. You’re still in control of your vehicle even stopped at a light, and fiddling with a phone is not allowed. The practice is common, but it’s illegal.
What’s the bottom line? Put away the phone and pay attention to the road, police say.
Speak with a Worcester Personal Injury Attorney
Although police are coming down harder on people who text and drive, distracted driving continues to be a major problem. If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Worcester due to the negligence of another driver, work with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact our office for a free consultation about your rights and legal options.
Photo via Flickr by Lord Jim