Stop the Distractions with These Safe Driving Tips
FEBRUARY 21, 2020
Beginning Feb. 23, 2020, Massachusetts law prohibits the use of any electronic device while driving. Those who violate the new Hands-Free Law can face up to $500 in fines.
“There’s been a push over the past few years to discourage texting while driving,” says Kathryn Kowalsky, LCSW, Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator for BIDMC’s Trauma Program. “But the law now makes it very clear. No phones—only hands-free mode for calls and GPS is allowed—and definitely no texting.”
Mass.gov provides an overview of the law, including information about mounting phones on windshields or dashboards, voice-to-text options and headphones.
As a Level 1 Trauma Center, BIDMC staff care for many patients injured in motor vehicle crashes.
“Distracted driving is a serious issue and we’d rather prevent injuries than treat them,” Kowalsky says. “Electronic devices are a large part of the problem, but there are other ways a driver can get distracted.”
Here are some tips for keeping your drive distraction-free:
- Be prepared. Adjust your seat and mirrors, and set up your GPS before you begin driving. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.
- Use your passengers. Ask passengers to navigate or communicate on the phone for you.
- Put the phone away. Check to see if your phone has a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode or switch it to silent, then put it in a place where you cannot access it while driving.
- Pull over. If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area before dialing.
- Secure children and pets. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them.
- Focus on the task at hand. Avoid activities such as applying makeup, eating and smoking to keep your mind and eyes on the road.
Learn about injury prevention resources available through BIDMC’s Trauma Program.