As personal injury attorneys, we see the devastation that can be caused by a distracted driver. Therefore, we want to call attention Distracted Driver Awareness. For the safety of your family and everyone on the road, please consider joining millions of other drivers who have taken the “It Can Wait” Pledge. Visit AT&T’s website for more information and to pledge that you will not drive while distracted.
Distracted Driving Kills and Injures Thousands Each Year
The NHTSA reports that 3,477 lives were lost in 2015 in accidents involving distracted drivers. It is estimated that 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents that year. At any given time during daylight hours, there are about 660,000 drivers using a cell phone while they are operating a motor vehicle. In Pennsylvania during 2015, PennDOT states 66 people died in accidents involving distracted drivers.
With so many drivers continuing to use cell phones or giving in to other distractions while driving, the potential for accidents continues to be a concern in Erie and throughout Pennsylvania.
What Has Pennsylvania Done to Reduce Distracted Driving?
Sensing the seriousness of the issue, Pennsylvania lawmakers banned texting while driving in 2012. The offense is a primary traffic offense; meaning officers can pull over a driver for the sole reason of violating this ban. The law specifically bans drivers from using an IWCD (Interactive Wireless Communication Device) to write, read, or send a text-based message while the vehicle is in motion. An IWCD includes more than just a wireless phone. An IWCD also includes computers and other similar electronic devices that can browse the internet, email, or send and receive text messages. The fine is $50 for a violation of the law.
In addition, the state enacted “Daniel’s Law” in November 2016. Daniel’s Law enhances the penalties for drivers who cause an accident while texting that causes severe injury or death. Under the law, a driver who causes a fatality while texting and driving is sentenced to five years in jail. The jail sentence for causing bodily injury while texting and driving is two years.
What is Distracted Driving?
We would like to stress that distracted driving is much more than texting while driving. While texting is one of the worst forms of distracted driving, any activity that removes your attention and focus from the task of driving is a potentially deadly distraction. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous because it involves all three functions (cognitive, motor, and physical) that are required for safe driving. However, anything that requires you to take your eyes off the road, your hands away from the steering wheel, or your mind off driving is a distraction.
Common distractions include:
- Changing clothing
- Reading and writing
- Putting on makeup
- Adjusting vehicle controls
- Taking care of children
- Reaching for objects
- Looking at things on the side of the road
- Programming a GPS
- Watching videos
- Posting to social media accounts
For more information and ways you can get involved, visit the National Safety Council’s website.