Fatal attraction: What’s your idea to stop texting-while-driving?

Fatal attraction: What’s your idea to stop texting-while-driving?

Seriously, besides being killed, we want to know how you would stop people from texting-while-driving. Why? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced U.S. traffic deaths rose by 8 percent in the first six months of 2015. Texting was prominently indicated as a leading cause. It’s time we get serious about stopping this fatal attraction. So, what would you do to stop it?

We’d like to share your ideas in our next column so drop me a line at tpayne@clarkinsurance.com.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that texting-while-driving is a threat with a known solution – stop texting. Unfortunately, people continue to text. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. So, what’s it going to take? Should there be far stiffer penalties? If so, how stiff? Higher fines, loss of licenses, jail time, vehicle confiscation, shaming? Are there things we can do to alert people who are texting to cut it out?

How real is the problem? I recently spoke to a manager of a Moody’s Collision Center who said much of the rise in their business is attributable to texting-while-driving. I also spoke with an area police chief who estimated that 75 percent of the accidents to which they respond have been caused by distracted driving – especially texting.

So let’s look at the laws. Do you think they’re tough enough to make a difference?

Here is a synopsis of the current texting laws in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts as well as wrongful death liability highlights. Let’s begin here: It is illegal to text while driving in all three states.

Maine texting penalties: First offense, a fine of not less than $250 may be adjudged. Second offense within three years, no less than $500 and license suspension of 30 days; third offense within three years, fine plus 60 days suspension; fourth within three years, fine plus suspension of 90 days.

Maine’s Wrongful Death statute allows jury awards to give such damages that will compensate the estate of the deceased person for reasonable expenses of medical, surgical and hospital care and treatment and for reasonable funeral expenses. In addition, a jury may award up to $500,000 in damages plus up to $250,000 in punitive damages.

New Hampshire texting penalties: $100 fine

New Hampshire’s Wrongful Death statute allows damages of up $150,000 for a spouse and up to $50,000 per surviving child.

Massachusetts texting penalties: A fine of $100 for a first offense; $250 for a second offense; $500 for a third or subsequent offense.

Massachusetts Wrongful Death statute: monetary damages though limit is specified plus the reasonable funeral and burial expenses of the decedent. In addition, punitive damages in an amount of not less than five thousand dollars in such case as the decedent’s death was caused by the malicious, willful, wanton or reckless conduct of the defendant or by the gross negligence of the defendant.

If you have a fatal attraction to text while you drive, here’s an easy way to stop: put your cell phone out of reach in the back seat or the trunk when you drive. You also may employ technology with a No Texting/Driving App. Just Google it and see what you find. Also, as parents, you have the power and authority to impose your own penalties. Just be consistent and strong. Finally, call us to be sure your liability insurance is high enough to cover the worst case scenario in the states we’ve detailed above.

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