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More motorists accessing the Internet and social media sites while driving

As cellphones have become more advanced - effectively replacing computers, in many cases - the frequency with which they are used has rapidly increased. While cellphones were originally used solely for making and receiving phone calls, their capabilities now include sending text messages, playing games, updating social media websites and surfing the Internet. These many uses have led to these devices becoming indispensible for many people in Massachusetts and across the country.

Unfortunately, many people do not understand that using cellphones while driving is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious motor vehicle accidents. Distracted driving campaigns have been initiated around the United States, typically focusing on talking or texting.

A new study has shown that cellphones present hazards in addition to talking or texting, though. According to a State Farm survey, many American motorists - and particularly younger drivers - are surfing the Internet while behind the wheel.

The survey found that the number of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who surfed the Web while driving increased by 19 percent from 2009 to 2012. In 2012, practically 50 percent of all young drivers reported that they surfed the Internet while behind the wheel. In addition, more young motorists stated they checked their email and browsed social media sites while on the road.

Young drivers were not the only ones guilty of this increase in distracted driving. According to the survey, drivers of all ages participated in these behaviors in larger numbers in 2012 than 2009. In 2009, 13 percent of drivers in all age groups reported surfing the Web and 9 percent indicated they looked at social media sites. In 2012, 21 percent of all drivers stated they accessed the Internet and 15 percent checked social media sites.

Distracted driving laws in Massachusetts

As the number of people injured and killed in distracted driving accidents continues to rise, states have taken some precautions to curb the number of car crashes.

In Massachusetts, all drivers are prohibited from texting while behind the wheel. In addition, bus drivers and novice drivers are banned from using cellphones - both handheld and hands-free - while driving. Violation of Massachusetts' Safe Driving Law can result in fines - beginning at $100 for most offenses - and license suspensions.

Data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has shown that law enforcement officers are beginning to crack down on distracted driving violations. During the first nine months of 2012, they issued more distracted driving tickets than in all of 2011. According to the Department of Transportation, 603 tickets were issued from January through September 2012, whereas only 504 were issued during all of 2011.

In addition to these penalties, distracted drivers who cause motor vehicle accidents can be held responsible for the harm caused. If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driver accident, consulting with an experienced, Massachusetts personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected.

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