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Don't let your last text be your last words. #ItCanWaitThis is a guest blog post from the Highway Safety Division (HSD) of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS).

Distracted driving — particularly texting and driving — is a serious issue in Massachusetts and across the country. It’s time to think about how dangerous our roads are because of these habits.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving can take many forms, including sending and receiving text messages or emails, browsing the web, using apps, or playing games. These kinds of distracted driving are dangerous because they combine three types of distraction — visual, manual, and cognitive. You’re distracted any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your primary task — driving.

Is Distracted Driving Really a Problem?

The short answer — yes. In the United States, more than 3,100 people died and 431,000 were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2014.

A driver can safely glance away from the road for only two seconds. When drivers text, they take their eyes off the road for an average of five seconds each time. Factor in that at any given moment there are about 660,000 drivers on their phones, and you’ll realize just how big a problem distracted driving really is.

National trends indicate that our youngest and most inexperienced drivers — 24 and under — are the most likely to text while they’re on the road. Recent Massachusetts statistics show that seniors represent the highest proportion of distracted driving fatalities.

Is Distracted Driving Illegal?

The Safe Driving Law bans texting at the wheel for all drivers and prohibits all forms of cellphone use, including hands-free calls, by drivers under 18. The law was enacted in 2010 to limit the use of handheld devices. Although other forms of distracted driving aren’t illegal, they are extremely dangerous. All drivers should keep their full attention on driving when they’re on the road.

What Is Massachusetts Doing to Address Distracted Driving?

For the second year in a row, HSD teamed up with state and local police to crack down on drivers who violate the Safe Driving Law.

The Distracted Driving Mobilization put extra forces from as many as 202 police departments on roads from April 8–29, 2016. During the 2015 mobilization, more than 4,200 distracted driving traffic citations and almost 18,000 other tickets were issued.

Whenever you buckle up, just remember — it can wait. Don’t text and drive.

Share this post with friends and family and help make Massachusetts roads safer.

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