NORTH READING, MA – The North Reading Police Department will conduct a series of patrols designed to reduce the number of crashes, fatalities, and injuries caused by distracted driving. The effort is part of a statewide enforcement and education campaign by the Highway Safety Division (HSD) of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) to address a historic rise in fatal crashes fueled by driver distraction. The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the importance of attentive and engaged driving and will focus on the dangers distracted driving poses to everyone on the road including bicyclists and pedestrians.
Massachusetts law prohibits adult drivers from writing, sending, or reading electronic messages, interacting with apps or browsing the Internet while driving even if stopped at a light. Teen drivers under 18 are prohibited entirely from using mobile phones and other electronic devices while driving. Fines go as high as $500. Teen drivers can also lose their license for up to one year.
- Preliminary Massachusetts data shows a 13 percent increase in motor vehicle fatalities from 2015 to 2016 – more than double the national average according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
- Nationally in 2015, fatalities from crashes involving a distracted driver increased by 9 percent according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- In Massachusetts, distracted driving fatalities are highest among adults ages 18-34 and 75+ (FARS)
- Pedestrian fatalities in Massachusetts increased by 26 percent in 2015 according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
- Nationally, 1 out of 10 drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 years old involved in fatal crashes was distracted (NHTSA).
- 94 percent of all crashes are caused by driver error (NHTSA).
“Drivers focused on anything but driving put every road user – especially pedestrians and bicyclists – in danger,” said Jeff Larason, Director of the Highway Safety Division. “Transportation experts agree that the increase in fatal crashes is linked to drivers who aren’t paying attention. These types of crashes are not ‘accidents’ – they kill innocent people and they are 100 percent preventable.”
The North Reading Police Department offers these tips for motorists:
- Turn your phone off and put it where you can’t reach it before driving;
- Let your friends and family know that you’ll be driving and can’t take their call/text;
- Pull over to a safe place if you have to make a call or send a text;
- Start GPS navigation or review maps before you start driving;
- Watch for pedestrians and bicyclists – especially at night; and
- Remember to buckle up! Seat belts are your best defense against a distracted driver.
Distracted driving crashes are not “accidents”. We urge media to follow the AP Stylebook which suggests avoiding the word “accident” in reference to distracted, negligent, drunk or drugged crashes.
To view the Highway Safety Division’s “Distracted? The Crash is On You” ads in English and Spanish, go to www.mass.gov/DrivePresent