For many of us, our cell phones are necessary requirements for work, home life, and fun and serve as an essential means of communication in our society. We all use our phones as not just a way to communicate, but now as a way to surf the web, send email, check our bank accounts and more. Especially in Centre County, we use our phones to assist us in all types of community life, from checking on Penn State football tickets to finding the best restaurant downtown State College. However when someone is driving, cell phones can turn from a helpful tool into a dangerous distraction that many times leads to car accident and otherwise avoidable serious personal injuries.
Driver’s in Pennsylvania received 1,410 citations for texting while driving in 2014, and this is a number that has been steadily growing in the last 3 years. Pennsylvania’s texting law went into effect on March 8th, 2012 and is aimed at eliminating texting while operating a car, truck or motorcycle. Pennsylvania’s current law prohibits all text based messaging on an IWCD, including email, instant message, and traditional texting while operating a vehicle. An IWCD stands for Interactive Wireless Communication Device and can include a cell phone, digital assistant, smart phone or any similar device. Additionally, 3 bills have currently been proposed in the Pennsylvania legislature for the 2015-2016 session aimed at increasing the penalties of texting while driving, and further limiting cell phone use while on the road. While the current fine for violating Pennsylvania’s texting laws is $50, plus court costs, the implications of distracted driving are much larger.
Distracted Driving is anything that causes you to either take your attention away from driving, take your eyes off of the road, or take your hands off the wheel. Texting is one of the many forms of distracted driving and they all have dangerous results. Numerous studies indicate that texting drivers typically have their eyes diverted from the road longer than any other distraction. Experts say that taking your eyes of the road for 4.6 seconds -the average time of sending or receiving a text message-while driving 55 mph is the equivalent of traveling the entire length of a football field while blindfolded.
The National Safety Council says that texting while driving causes 1.6 million car crashes per year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that texting while driving is to blame for 11 teen deaths each day. Just in Pennsylvania, there were 1,093 crashes in which at least one driver used a handheld phone, with 11 people losing their lives in those crashes. We can all help to prevent distracted driving by waiting to answer or read a text message, using a hands free device to answer phone calls, and pulling off the road whenever it is necessary to respond to a message right away.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information about personal injury claims, or to speak with a top rated State College personal injury lawyer, please contact the office of Rehmeyer & Allatt today for a free consultation.