Whether we have sent a quick text at a red light, ate a breakfast sandwich on our way to work, or styled our hair from behind the wheel — at one point in our lives, we have all been guilty of distracted driving. We may have been lucky enough to avoid getting into an accident, but the reality is that once a driver has been distracted, it takes only a few seconds for a car crash to occur. According to the CDC, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver each day in the United States.
To help drastically reduce this number, we are proud to have partnered with the Arbella Insurance Foundation to bring Distractology to West Bridgewater High School. The program aims to create a new generation of safer drivers. The mobile classroom allows students an opportunity to experience distracted driving and see the negative effects of first-hand. Drivers who have completed Distractology are proven to be 15 percent less likely to have an accident or receive a traffic violation.
The state of Massachusetts has also taken a big step to put an end to distracted driving. This fall Charlie Baker made major news headlines as he announced that the state will be prohibiting hand-held phone use while driving. At Cushman Insurance, our goal is for you to live more and worry less — so we’re here to clarify the do-s and don’ts of this new law.
About the Massachusetts Hands-Free Cell Phone Law
The new law officially goes into effect on February 23, 2020. For those who are 18 years and older, you will now only be able to use your electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode. Just to be clear, you will not be allowed to hold or support any electronic device while you are driving — which means no texting, emailing, using the internet, checking your social media, updating your GPS, or changing your music.
Handheld use will only be allowed if your vehicle is stationary and not located in a public travel lane; however, it is important to note that you are not permitted to touch your electronic device at red lights or stop signs. To safely use your electronic devices in voice control, you must properly have it mounted in your car.
For drivers younger than 18 years old, the use of any electronic devices while driving will not be allowed — including devices in hands-free mode.
The first offense will result in a $100 fine, the second offense will result in a $250 fine and the mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program, and the third offense will result in $500 fine, plus an insurance surcharge and the mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program.
Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving
Prohibiting the use of electronic devices while driving is a major step to prevent accidents due to a result of distracted driving. But, there are still a few more things you can do to ensure a safer ride for you and your family:
Don’t rush to get into the car — We get it, sometimes you are off to a late start or don’t want to delay your trip by stopping; however, it is so important to give yourself the extra time to avoid eating, applying makeup, or doing your hair behind the wheel.
Store all your belongings in the back seat — When your items are out of sight they are often out of mind. Keep your belongings in the back seat to prevent yourself from going through them while you are driving.
Limit the number of passengers in your car — Oftentimes, with more people, there are more distractions. It is also important to note that the number of passengers allowed in a vehicle is dictated by the number of seat belts available.
Turn down the music — It’s important to feel comfortable while driving, so keep the music or podcast turned down low so that it doesn’t distract all of your senses.
Whether you are adding a new driver to your auto insurance policy or are looking to understand the new driving law, your local Cushman agent is happy to help. Give us a call at: 508-586-5310.