In the United States, more than 1000 people are injured on the roads every day – and at least nine people are killed every day – because of a “distracted driver.” Distracted driving can have many causes, but texting is one of the most common, and it is certainly one of the most dangerous.
For example, if you read a short text message in five seconds, while driving at 55 miles an hour, you are traveling the equivalent length of a football field without your eyes on the road. Further, texting and driving has become a leading cause of death of teenagers in recent years. Even so, as many as 42 percent admit they have texted while driving.
Because texting has become so commonplace – especially among millennials, who have grown up texting – it seems benign. But when you get behind the wheel with a phone in your hand, you can potentially lose control of your vehicle within seconds – putting your life, and the lives of others, in great jeopardy.
Despite the huge dangers associated with texting and driving, and despite the fact that texting and driving is rampant in Pennsylvania, offenders are almost never issued citations. In 2017, only two citations were issued per municipality throughout the entire state – and that was an increase over previous years.
Shockingly, between 2013 and 2017, only 8,700 citations were issued under the state’s 2012 law against texting and driving. That means that in a state with more than nine million licensed drivers, only eight citations were issued per day. Police officers say that’s because the law is too weak to have an impact.
Part of the reason may be that Pennsylvania does not have a “hands-free” law, which would require drivers to keep their hands off their phones while driving. The no-texting law bans only the sending and receiving of text-based communications, so motorists are free to use Google maps, dial phone numbers, and more. If a driver receives a citation, they can simply go to court and claim to have been using GPS, and can therefore frequently avoid the fine.
Challenges of Catching Texting Drivers
It can be difficult to catch someone in the act of texting while driving. By the time an officer pulls a driver over, they no longer have the phone in their hand. And, by law, a police officer is not allowed to ask to check the phone history, or even to see what’s on the driver’s phone. This certainly lends credence to the police officers’ claims that the law is too weak to be easily enforceable.
Something has to change. Between 2013 and 2017, 227 fatal crashes in Pennsylvania involved a distracted driver. That’s more than 50 deaths every year. Those who use cell phones in general were more likely to be involved in at least one crash during their driving history.
Chester County Car Accident Lawyers of McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Advocate for Car Accident Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver, please call the Chester County car accident lawyers of McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC today at 215-569-8488. You can also contact us online for a free evaluation of your case. With offices throughout Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.