Distracted driving

Keeping your eyes on the road while driving is critical to traffic safety for all.

Focus on the road

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. Texting refers to all activity in which a driver might look at their phone, use an app, play a game, and/or use social media, among others. 

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

Crash fatalities have seen a historic increase over the past two years with traffic safety experts pointing to the growing number of distracted drivers as one of the leading factors. Nationally in 2015, 3,477 people were killed and nearly 400,000 injured in crashes involving distracted drivers - a 9% increase from 2014. 

During April 2017, which was designated National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the current "Drive Present" campaign was launched. The campaign stressed the importance of drivers focusing on the road and not their phones. Driving Present is about being engaged in the moment: aware of your surroundings, ready to reach when the situation changes. When you are behind the wheel, you owe it to the people you love to focus only on the task at hand. Why? Because they are counting on you to make it home safe. 


Additional Resources

10 tips for managing driver distractions

  1. Turn it off. Turn your phone off or switch to silent mode before you get in the car. Or better yet, put the phone away in a place it cannot be accessed while driving.
  2. Spread the word. Set up a special message to tell callers that you are driving and you'll get back to them as soon as possible, or sign up for a service that offers this.
  3. Pull over. If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first.
  4. Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to communicate for you.
  5. X the text. Don't ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It is dangerous and against the law in most states.
  6. Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car. 
  7. Prepare. Start your GPS or review maps and directions before you start to drive. If you need help when you are on the road, ask a passenger to help or pull over to a safe location to review the map and/or directions. 
  8. Secure your pets. Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you start to drive.
  9. Keep the kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
  10. Focus on the task at hand. Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.

Additional Resources

Massachusetts' Safe Driving Law

Massachusetts has had a Safe Driving Law effective as of September 2010. The law bans sending, typing or reading electronic messages to or from handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle. This includes use of the internet and text messaging. The law also bans all handheld electronic by junior operators while behind the wheel. 

Read the entire summary of the Safe Driving Law on the Registry of Motor Vehicles website


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