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Distracted driving laws aim to prevent Massachusetts truck and bus accidents, traffic accidents by employees on the job

In an effort to reduce Boston trucking accidents and accidents nationwide involving trucks, buses, and trains, the federal government announced new rules governing commercial drivers as part of the second annual Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C.

Our Massachusetts injury lawyers frequently report on the dangers of accidents involving large trucks — motorists don’t stand a chance in an accident with a large commercial semi, which typically weights 20 times more than a passenger vehicle. The dangers are just as obvious when it comes to Massachusetts bus accidents, where drivers are responsible for the safety of dozens of passengers and other motorists on the road.

Last year’s summit culminated with an announcement by President Obama that all federal employees driving federal vehicles would be prohibited from text messaging while driving. A text messaging ban for commercial truck and bus drivers was also planned and had been implemented when this year’s summit convened last month in Washington.

However, authorities extended the ban to include train operators and drivers of in-state trucks hauling hazardous materials, which had been inadvertently omitted from last year’s measure.

Additionally, the government announced results of a pilot plan to ticket drivers violating cell phone laws and another program that encourages employers to implement plans to encourage employees not to use cell phones or text message while driving.

“We are taking action on a number of fronts to address the epidemic of distracted driving in America,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “With the help of the experts, policymakers, and safety advocates we’ve assembled here, we are going to do everything we can to put an end to distracted driving and save lives.”

The program “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” was modeled after seat belt enforcement programs like “Click it or Ticket.” The campaign targeted Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York, both towns where hand-held cell p[hones are illegal. During two-week enforcement periods, both cities issued more than 4,000 tickets to drivers caught talking or texting on cell phones. Subsequent observations and surveys found that hand-held cell phone use dropped by 38 to 56 percent, while text messaging by drivers dropped by 42 to 68 percent.

“Good laws are important, but we know from past efforts to curb drunk driving and promote seatbelts that enforcement is the key,” said LaHood. “Our pilot programs in Syracuse and Hartford are critical pieces of our overall effort to get people to realize distracted driving is dangerous and wrong. I want to commend the police in Hartford and Syracuse for their excellent work keeping our roads safe and serving as a model for other communities.”

Meanwhile, the Network of Employer for Traffic Safety has enrolled almost 1,600 U.S. companies, which have adopted distracted driving policies covering 10.5 million employees. Another 550 organizations and 1.5 million employees are expected to enroll within the next 12 months.

“I am thrilled that businesses across the country are making anti-distracted driving policies an integral part of their employee culture,” said LaHood. “President Obama led by example last year by banning four million federal workers from texting behind the wheel. Employers across America are doing the same to help us set an example and keep our roads safe.”

If you have been injured in a Boston car accident or hurt while on the job in Massachusetts, contact Boston Injury Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.