Massachusetts Governor Files Proposed Legislation to Crack Down on Distracted Driving and Improve Road Safety

Recently, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito introduced a new piece of legislation that would affect when drivers can use their cell phones behind the wheel. The measure is called “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth” and it was inspired by the roughly 15,000 people who suffered serious injuries in Massachusetts traffic accidents during the period between 2012 and 2016. Almost 2,000 people lost their lives, which includes 14 roadside workers.

The proposed law changes a number of statutes based on recommendations from the Strategic Highway Safety Plan and updates a number of laws that were created before different types of mobile technology became widespread. According to Gov. Baker, the bill includes “common sense proposals to substantially reduce distracted driving, stiffen penalties associated with operating under the influence, improve safety requirements for certain trucks and to begin establishing a regulatory framework for new forms of transportation.”

Perhaps the biggest impact for most Massachusetts drivers would be the requirement to use hands-free devices while driving. Sixteen other states currently have a hands-free technology law. This means that drivers are prohibited from touching or holding a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle except to perform a tap, swipe, or activation of the hands-free mode. It would also allow law enforcement officials to stop and cite individuals who are not wearing a seatbelt.

The legislation would also allow the Mass. Department of Transportation to create temporary mandatory speed limits for construction zones. To provide greater protections for pedestrians, including walkers, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, state-owned heavy trucks and contracted vehicles would be required to have convex and cross-over mirrors as well as the installation of side guards between the front and rear tires to protect individuals from being caught underneath in the event of a collision.

Finally, electric scooters and other new types of low-speed mobility devices would be classified as bicycles for the purposes of traffic rules and regulations. Currently, these new types of vehicles do not fall under any existing category. This means that operators would need to wear a helmet if they are under the age of 16 and would be required to yield to pedestrians.

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents. If you are involved in a wreck involving a distracted driver, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against him or her to recover compensation for your injuries and damages. In the lawsuit, you will need to show that the defendant failed to drive with reasonable care and skill and that this caused your injuries. A reasonable and prudent driver would refrain from talking or texting on a phone while driving because of the serious distraction that it creates. Although many drivers claim that sending a text takes a few seconds, studies have shown that roadway conditions can change in a split second and that distracted drivers are unable to react in time to avoid a wreck.

If you are successful in showing that the other driver acted negligently and caused your injuries, you are entitled to recover compensation for a variety of things like past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, and reduced earning capacity.

At the Law Office of Michael O. Smith, we have assisted numerous car accident victims with understanding the right to compensation following a car accident. We know how confusing and painful this situation can be, especially it prevents you from working or attending to other important responsibilities. We offer a free consultation so that you can learn more about our team. Call us today at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.

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