April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and federal and state authorities across the nation are working to make drivers more informed about this dangerous driving habit. Distracted driving causes the deaths of thousands of people and the injuries of hundreds of thousands every year in the United States.
If you or a loved one was injured in a distracted driving accident, it is important to discuss your case with a qualified car accident lawyer. We can help assess your legal options and help you navigate filing a personal injury claim.
Call (888) 476-0807 to have an attorney review your claim.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Some alarming statistics related to distracted driving include the following:
- Every day in 2015, an average of nine people died and 1,071 suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers, according to the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- The number of accidents caused by distracted driving has been steadily increasing in recent years.
- In 2015, there were 1,017 car accidents in which the driver was using a cellphone, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Of these accidents, seven people died and 566 were injured.
- About 70 percent of Pennsylvania drivers who received citations for distracted driving in 2016 were men.
- According to the AAA Foundation’s 2017 Traffic Safety Culture Index survey, 44.9 percent of drivers had read a text message or email while driving within the previous month.
Forms of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving occurs when a driver engages in any action that takes his or her focus off of the road. There are generally three different forms of distracted driving:
- Cognitive distractions – These are activities that occupy the driver’s mind. Examples of these distractions include being lost in thought, talking excitedly to other occupants in the vehicle, hearing a baby cry in the backseat or verbally dictating information while driving.
- Manual distractions – Manual distractions take a driver’s hands off the steering wheel. Examples of these distractions include eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, inputting information into a GPS system or pressing keys on a phone.
- Visual distractions – These distractions take a driver’s eyes off the road. These distractions may involve looking out the window at something interesting, reading or viewing something on a cellphone or looking at an item that has dropped inside the vehicle.
Distracted driving can include a combination of two or all three of these forms, such as when a driver is texting or making or receiving phone calls.
Pennsylvania Law on Distracted Driving
Pennsylvania does not ban all cellphone use while driving. However, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation does encourage motorists to pull over before taking or receiving a call, and Pennsylvania law prohibits texting while driving. This law provides for the following:
- All drivers of all ages cannot text while the vehicle is in motion.
- If a motorist is texting while driving, law enforcement officers can pull the driver over.
- A person who is convicted of this driving offense is required to pay a $50 fine.
Avoiding Distracted Driving
When drivers are distracted, they have less time to react quickly to any potential danger. Some effective ways to reduce the likelihood of becoming distracted while driving include the following:
- Plan ahead – For example, eat or drink before taking off on a long road trip. Make any necessary phone calls and send or answer all texts before leaving your location. Set your GPS before you begin your journey.
- Pull over – If a call or text comes in that you must respond to, and a passenger cannot answer the phone or read the text aloud to you, pull over to a safe location. Simply call or text the person back once you’ve stopped.
- Set driving settings – Many phones and apps allow you to indicate that you are driving so that you will not receive calls, texts, emails or other communications while in motion.
- Practice good habits – Avoiding texting while driving and other distracted driving behaviors will provide a good model for your children and help keep everyone safe, including yourself.
- Speak up – Individuals of any age should speak up if they see the driver texting or handling phone calls while driving.
- Set rules for teens – Explain to your children that texting while driving is not permitted in Pennsylvania because it is dangerous. Tell them that it is a good idea to limit the number of occupants in the car in order to minimize the likelihood of getting distracted while driving and having an accident.
- Set a policy against distracted driving – If you are an employer, establish a ban on all cellphone use while employees are driving during work hours.
Contact a Lawyer for Help
Many auto accidents are caused by drivers who are texting while driving or engaging in other distracting activities. When a person’s careless actions result in your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for the medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other injuries that you sustained.
At Schmidt Kramer, our experienced attorneys work with clients who were injured by the negligent actions of others. We can investigate your claim and determine if distracted driving was a factor in it.
Contact a skilled Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer to schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation. We do not charge for our services unless we help you recover compensation.