How Many People Die From Distracted Driving in Massachusetts?

Distracted driving accidents and deaths have reached epidemic proportions in Massachusetts and other states.  Only drunk driving poses a greater risk to other motorists as well as to pedestrians, cyclists, and those using scooters, mopeds, or E-bikes since impaired drivers are generally more reckless and drive at higher speeds though it is not uncommon for a distracted driver to lose control at a high rate of speed. 

Distracted Driving Accidents In Massachusetts

Distracted driving is any activity that takes the drivers attention away from driving.  Rubbernecking, grooming, reading, talking to passengers, eating and fiddling with the radio are common distractive behaviors, but the most common is that when someone uses a cellphone.  Of all fatal accidents in Massachusetts, around 9.48% are a result of distracted driving.  Our 5-year average for fatal car accidents from 2016 to 2020 was 353.

Distracted driving was a major factor in over 3,500 fatalities nationwide in 2021 with around 12% of all traffic fatalities involving the use of a cellphone.  587 pedestrians and cyclists were killed by distracted motorists in the U.S. in 2020.  Overall, 324,652 persons were injured in distracted driving accidents across the U.S. in the latest statistics from 2020. 

Massachusetts reported an 11-year high in traffic fatalities in 2021 with the trend continuing. Speeding, impaired driving, and distracted driving are the main factors.  Compounding the problem is that Massachusetts drivers are notorious for not using their seatbelts, which can prevent fatal injuries by up to 50% – note that in the Princess Di accident, the three with fatal injuries were not wearing seatbelts; the one that lived, was wearing a seatbelt.  

Massachusetts Bans Most Cellphone Use While Driving

Even though Massachusetts has banned all hand-held use of a cellphone since February of 2021, drivers continue to ignore the law or to text, watch videos, or scroll through emails even with the phone in a mounted position. 

Massachusetts drivers under the age of 21 may not use a cellphone at all, even if mounted, while adult drivers can only use or touch a mounted phone in a very limited fashion such as touching a function to receive a call.  If you wish to use GPS or to listen to a radio streaming service, be sure to turn it on and have the directions observable and the music playing before you begin driving.  You cannot text, scroll, take photos, watch videos or do face time while driving.  Even so, a study from Travelers Insurance reported that an astounding 77% of all drivers have used their cellphone with 56% having read a text or email and 27% reported checking in on their social media accounts while driving.

Studies and statistics show that the average time for a motorist using or looking at a cellphone is 5 seconds, which at 60 miles per hour covers a distance of 422 feet, more than enough time to not observe a roadway hazard such as a pedestrian, a red traffic signal or stop sign, or a vehicle crossing in front of you. Even at 20 miles per hour, your perception/reaction time is compromised as you cover a distance of  around 158 feet without seeing what is front of you. 

According to Forbes Magazine, about 2.5% of all drivers on the roadway at any moment are using their cellphones in their hands, which is over 373,000 motorists.  The statistic increases to 3.7% for those in the 16 to 24 age group. 

If You Suspect Cellphone Use in an Injury Accident

If you were injured in a car accident from being rear-ended, side-swiped, or a driver having ignored a red traffic signal or stop sign, or were ignored while in a crosswalk, chances are fairly high that that motorist was using a cellphone and was distracted. 

An investigating traffic police officer can request that s/he look at the driver’s cellphone to see if it was on, or if a text or phone message had been sent or received, although the driver can legally refuse to turn it over in the absence of a search warrant.  However, you or eyewitnesses may have observed the motorist on a cellphone in the moments before the collision.  If necessary, a car accident attorney can subpoena the driver’s phone records to see if any calls, texts, or browsing correspond with the time of the accident.  This has made many cases for Burns & Jain clients!

Cellphone records can also show a consistent pattern of a person using a cellphone while driving and demonstrate negligent or reckless behavior.  The cellphone records could also corroborate other evidence such as video surveillance or the testimony of yourself or witnesses who saw the defendant driver on the phone that can eliminate the issue of liability for your claim. 

Retain a Car Accident Attorney from Burns and Jain 

Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic deaths and serious injuries in Massachusetts. Having an experienced car accident attorney who can obtain phone records and other evidence to prove liability and your damages is essential if you want a satisfactory outcome for your injury claim. Call our office at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation. 

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