“Tell Them You Mean Business”

Exploring Driver Safety Laws in Massachusetts

One of the most important factors when it comes to keeping drivers safe is taking steps to prevent risky driving behaviors. There are many driving behaviors that can put people in danger, including texting and driving or driving when you are too young and inexperienced to make safe choices. To prevent some of the most dangerous driving behaviors, legislatures routinely pass laws that are designed to shape driver behavior.

Every year for the past 10 years, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety have looked at how each state is doing as far as passing safety laws. The Advocates identified 15 different recommended laws and gave states credit for each of the different laws that had been passed. Our Boston car accident lawyers have taken a look at how the state of Massachusetts measures up.

Driver Safety Regulations in Massachusetts
According to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Massachusetts has passed 11 of the 15 laws that the Advocates believe that every state should have in place. Although the state has passed many of the recommended laws, it received only a Yellow rating. Yellow is a rating given to states that have taken some key steps towards imposing safety regulations but that haven't quite done enough yet to ensure driver safety.

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety also provided details on what laws Massachusetts has passed and what laws the state is lacking:

  • Massachusetts is lacking in a primary seat belt law. This is a law that would permit police to pull over a driver for failure to buckle up, even absent any other legal violations.
  • Massachusetts has a mandatory helmet law for all motorcycle riders. The state gets credit for this law.
  • Massachusetts mandates the use of booster seats and gets credit for its law.
  • The state gets credit for its law limiting learner's permits to teens 16 and older.
  • The state also gets credit for its law mandating a six month holding period for new teen drivers.
  • Massachusetts requires supervised driving, and so gets credit for the category of requiring between 30 and 50 hours of supervised driving.
  • The state does not get credit on the issue of imposing night time restrictions on teen drivers nor on the issue of imposing restrictions on the number of passengers that may be in the car with a teen driver.
  • Massachusetts has a cell phone restriction in place for teens and gets credit for it.
  • The state gets no credit because it does not require ignition interlock devices for every offender found guilty of driving while impaired.
  • Massachusetts does get credit for its laws on mandatory BAC testing; for its open container laws; and for its child endangerment laws related to impaired driving.
  • The state gets credit for its all driver ban on text messaging.

Massachusetts, therefore, does have many important safety laws in place. With just a few more simple regulations, the state could significantly improve the safety of all drivers on the road.

If you’ve been injured, call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone.

Drivers Who Use Cell Phones More Likely to Engage in Risky Behavior

It has been widely acknowledged that driving while using a cell phone is risky behavior that significantly increases the chances of an auto accident. However, while the use of a cell phone creates a major distraction, the phone itself may not be the only explanation for more accidents occurring.

A 2012 study of 108 Boston area drivers conducted by MIT researchers revealed some important information about drivers who tend to talk on their phones as they drive. Our Boston, MA accident lawyers understand drivers who use cell phones were also more likely to engage in other unsafe driving behavior.

Drivers Who use Cell Phones More Likely to be Dangerous Drivers
According to Boston.com, an MIT study of more than 108 drivers in Boston and surrounding areas revealed that approximately half of the drivers admitted to frequently using their phones when they were driving. The rest of the drivers in the study said that they rarely used their phones at all when operating a vehicle.

The MIT researchers studied the driving behavior of each of the 108 drivers participating in the survey. None of the drivers used their phones at the time when the test was going on. Yet, it turned out that many of those who reported frequently using their phones were doing some other dangerous things. For example, those who frequently used their phones also:

  • Drove faster than the other drivers who rarely used their phones
  • Drove in the far left lane for longer periods of time than the other drivers
  • Changed lanes more frequently
  • Accelerated rapidly more often than the other drivers
  • Were more apt to slam on the brakes than the other drivers

In other words, those who were more likely to talk on their cell phones were also much more likely to engage in aggressive and dangerous driving behaviors.

Based on the results of the study, the associate director of MIT's New England University Transportation Center indicated that drivers who used their cell phones more often were also drivers who tended to be higher-risk in general, independent of the issue of distracted driving.

These study results could indicate that it is the driver's personality that plays the biggest role in whether or not an accident will occur. A driver who is more likely to engage in risky behavior will also be more likely to engage in the dangerous practice of using his phone.

Unfortunately, these results show that a widespread ban on the use of cell phones may not reduce the risk of auto accidents as much as legislatures and experts have hoped. While such a ban can be an important step in the right direction of making roads safer, other measures also need to be taken including providing driver training to warn about other bad driving behaviors.

The president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also indicated that cell phone restrictions had provided few of the expected benefits and that there had been no notable increase in crashes as cell phones became more popular. This data, too, suggests that the most important thing is helping every single driver to recognize and avoid unnecessary driving risk.

If you've been injured, call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone.