Distracted Driving Laws in Pennsylvania Aim to Reduce Dangers on the Road
Pennsylvania law makes it an offense for a driver to use an Interactive Wireless Communication Device to read or write a text while their vehicle is moving. The device could be a wireless phone, a mobile computer, or a smartphone. This law seeks to penalize drivers who create safety problems by taking their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. In addition to texting, the law prohibits sending or receiving emails, as well as instant messaging.
Distracted driving is considered to be any activity that takes a person’s attention away from the main task of driving. The website distraction.gov states that five seconds is the average amount of time eyes are averted from the road while texting. According to a statistic on this website, when a car is traveling at 55 mph, five seconds allows a vehicle to cover the length of a football field. If a driver is distracted during this period of time, it is equivalent to driving that distance essentially blindfolded.
Pennsylvania law also mandates that drivers not wear headphones or earphones while driving. There is an exception for hearing aids or other devices that improve the driver’s hearing, and of course, headsets that allow for a cellular phone to be heard through one ear are permitted.
There is a fine for violating the texting-while-driving ban, and while local ordinances may institute different restrictions regarding driving and texting, the texting-while-driving ban supersedes and preempts those ordinances. Drivers are not prohibited from using GPS devices or systems that are physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle.
The policy consideration behind these laws rests on the fact that distracted driving is considered a dangerous epidemic. Distracted driving endangers the driver, as well as others on the road. Distractions do not only include texting but also can include watching videos, grooming, talking to other passengers, eating, and drinking. But the required visual, cognitive, and manual attention required to send or read a text message is an especially serious distraction for drivers.
The tragic consequences of using a cellphone and texting while driving have been researched at length, and particularly among teenagers and other novice drivers, the use of a device while driving can lead to motor vehicle crashes. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2014 concluded that performing secondary tasks, which include texting and dialing on cell phones, particularly increases the risk of a crash or near-crash among newer drivers.
At Needle Law, we represent victims of motor vehicle collisions in their legal claims for compensation. Unfortunately, some of these collisions are caused by distracted driving. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to the negligence of another driver, we can help you understand your legal rights and obligations. Discuss your legal claim by calling our firm at 570-344-1266. You can set-up a free consultation with a skilled Pennsylvania auto accident attorney.
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