Different people might tell you different things about cell phone usage in a car. Well, some of them might know what they're talking about, and others might not. But no worries! Here I am to clear the air about cell phone myths and driving in Massachusetts.
It's Not Just a Cell Phone
The registry defines anything that is a handheld OR portable electronic device that is capable of communicating with other persons as a "mobile electronic device". This does include, but is not limited to, cell phones. Other forms of a "mobile electronic device" include laptops, handheld videogame consoles (i.e. Nintendo DS), paging devices, iPods, iPads, etc.
Cell Phone Usage
- Now that we have defined a "mobile electronic device," know that any driver of any age is NEVER permitted to read, write, or send electronic messages while driving.
- If a driver is over the age of 18, he/she is permitted to call someone/have somebody call him/her if one other condition is met: one hand must remain on the steering wheel at all times. However, do not fall victim to distracted driving by talking on the phone. Bluetooth and speaker phone options are available to be able to talk on the phone and have both hands on the wheel.
- In the case of reporting an emergency, any driver of any age is allowed to use a "mobile electronic device" to report the emergency.
Consequences of Breaking the Law
Well first off, there's that whole greater chance of an accident thing going on here. That's very bad. You can injure yourself, somebody else, property, your car, and basically anything around you. That's the most immediate and direct effect of driving and texting.
Secondly, there's the whole legal part. Breaking laws like these, which are in effect for very serious safety reasons, have harsh ramifications.
- 1st offense: $100 fine
- 2nd offense: $250 fine
- 3rd+ offense: $500 fine
- Considered a moving violation
- If found texting for an at-fault accident, driver is considered to have operated the vehicle in a reckless manner
For junior operators:
- 1st offense: junior operator loses permit or license for 60 days
- 2nd offense: junior operators loses permit or license for 180 days
- 3rd offense: junior operator loses permit or license for 1 year
- Junior operator must pay $500 fine to get license reinstated
- Junior operator must take an attitudinal adjustment class
- Other fees and surcharges may apply
To read the bill that fully explains this law, click here.
I hope you keep in mind that texting and driving is never a good idea. Even if you are all alone, no pedestrians, no pets, no other moving vehicles in sight, taking your eyes off the road for a split second (average look away time is approximately five seconds) could result in disaster.
Take a moment to remember all the lives that have been lost due to texting while driving, and be sure not to add your name to that list. The only way to do this is to not use your phone while driving. If it's really tempting, shut your phone off or put it in the backseat PLEASE. Stay safe, and if you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact us online (just not while you're driving). Learn more about auto insurance here.