By now I'm sure all of you have become aware of the new laws pertaining to texting and driving. (If not, please take a look at our previous blog post which outlines the laws.) It's unfortunate that such laws were even necessary, as one would hope that your fellow drivers on the road with you are driving as safely as possible, for both their sake and yours.
That being said, the new laws were put into practice to encourage drivers to operate their vehicle safely, that is, without the interruption of cell phones. The fines for being caught using a cell phone while driving are quite steep, going as far as suspending the offender's license for subsequent offenses.
Even so, according to an article in The Standard magazine (Volume 267, No. 12, Pg. 1), texting while driving bans have not impacted crash rates as of yet. "A recent study by the Highway Loss Data Institute compared rates of collision insurance claims in California, Minnesota, Washington and Louisiana before and after texting bans were enacted.
"Crash rates were actually a little higher in 3 out of 4 states where bans were enforced," said Russ Radar, spokeman for the Highway Loss Data Institute.
Strange, no? Clearly these laws have not yet had the impact that was hoped for.
Just this week, a 21-year-old Westport man was charged with texting and driving and various other offenses after his truck hit a utility pole in Dartmouth.
Police found the man's 2001 Ford Ranger resting on its left side when they responded to a call about a serious accident on State Road around 3am.
Police reported that the truck had struck a utility pole before coming to rest on its side and trapping the driver inside. The driver admitted to police that he was reading and replying to text messages when the accident occured. Fortunately for the driver, he was freed from his vehicle, treated at a local hospital and released without major injury. (Read "Westport Man in Crash Charged with Texting while Driving.")
Having been the victim of a very serious accident a few years back (though the offending driver was not texting, to my knowledge), I know first-hand the physical and mental pain associated with traumatic car accidents. In my case, I was unconscious at the scene and had to be freed from my vehicle by the jaws of life. Fortunately, after a few days in the hospital I was also allowed to go home without any broken bones, but I suffered severely for someone else's careless driving.
Let us hope that fewer people need to learn the dangers of texting and driving the hard way!