April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Pennsylvania and across the United States.
The month began with the launch of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s first nationwide distracted driving enforcement and advertising campaign. The effort comes as the USA Today reports more than 1 in 4 of the nation’s traffic accidents are now caused by cell-phone use.
Distracted driving accident attorneys in Philadelphia know Pennsylvania has finally joined more than 40 other states in prohibiting drivers from texting at the wheel. The law prohibits the use of an interactive communications device for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the Internet, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. However, enforcement remains a challenge because drivers are not prohibited from dialing or using a hand-held cell phone.
Pennsylvania anti-texting laws often difficult to enforce
As The Morning Call recently reported, enforcement is difficult for law enforcement officials because they might not be able to tell the difference between a talking driver and a texting driver.
“Out on the street, is it very difficult to tell if a person is texting? Yes — I won’t make that a secret,” said Allentown Police Capt. William Reinik, who is in charge of the traffic division.
In Philadelphia, the number of tickets issued dropped from 243 in the year after the ban was passed, to just 91 tickets last year. Statewide, authorities have issued little more than 1,000 tickets a year since the law was enacted, which is having little impact on the risks faced by motorists. Authorities report distracted driving was to blame for 1.152 crashes and 59 traffic deaths in Pennsylvania in 2011.
Of course, our Philadelphia injury lawyers know cell phones are far from the only distraction faced by drivers; eating, grooming, applying makeup, using in-car electronics and talking to passengers can all take your eyes from the road and increase your risks of being involved in a serious or fatal traffic accident. The NHTSA reports at least 3,328 people were killed and more than 421,000 injured in distracted-driving collisions last year.
Teen drivers and texting accident risks
As with other examples of poor driving decisions, teens are among those at highest risk. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports texting while driving kills 11 teens per day. Other stats highlighting the risk to teens include:
-Teens are four-times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash while talking on a cell phone.
-94 percent of teens identify texting and driving as a serious threat, yet one-third admit to regularly doing so anyway, according to a study by AAA.
-A teen with one other passenger doubles the risk of a collision. A teen driver with two or more passengers faces five-times the fatal accident risks.
-Half of all teenagers admit to texting and driving. About one-fourth of teens admit to responding to at least one text message every time they drive.
About 30 students from high schools in Chester, Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks and Philadelphia counties recently participated in a Teen Safe Driving Competition at the Technical College High School’s Pickering Campus, according to the Montgomery Times Herald. The young drivers first attended a presentation on distracted driving.
Don’t be shy when it comes to getting the word out about the dangers of distracted driving — and make it a special point to talk to the young driver in your family.
Our distracted driving accident lawyers in Philadelphia can help. Contact Flager & Associates at 215-953-5200 today to schedule a consultation.