The use of smartphones is predominant in modern society. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, as of April 2021, about 97 percent of all Americans own a cellphone, and 85 percent of them own a smartphone. As mobile devices became more common, they are also became more comprehensive. Cellphones are no longer just for phone calls, they are small computers people use to surf the web, check emails, play games, take pictures, and send text messages to friends, coworkers, and family.
With all these technological options, people have a difficult time putting their phones down. This type of distracted driving can lead to a major car accident that results in serious injuries. Pennsylvania motorists should never text on their phone while driving, but they can still make phone calls. Even then, they should be smart and safe with how they use their phone and minimize distractions as much as possible.
There are some options for motorists who want to continue to use their phone while they are driving. While the most effective method is to turn the phone off, there are other ways to stay safe in the car. These safety methods include:
- Know the phone. There are several shortcuts on modern cellphones that make it easier for people to quickly dial a friend or a frequent number. Drivers should familiarize themselves with these tools.
- Position the phone properly. In addition to knowing the buttons on a phone, drivers should also make sure that their phone is in a location they can easily access.
- Be mindful of dangerous weather conditions. If the road conditions are hazardous, it might not be the best time to have a phone call with someone. Drivers should wait until conditions improve before resuming the conversation.
- Do not search items on the phone. When driving, the phone should just be used for phone calls and nothing beyond that.
- Time dialing. Drivers should time when they dial a number to coincide with when they are not actively driving in traffic. The best course of action is to begin a phone call before starting to drive.
- Stay calm. It is best to remain calm while driving. Drivers should refrain from engaging in any emotional or stressful phone calls if they can avoid them.
Practicing safe techniques when using the phone while driving will keep the motorist’s attention on the road. With an increased awareness of the road, it will also reduce the number of accidents and injuries.
Hands-Free Methods for Drivers
There are safe alternatives for drivers who wish to continue to talk on their phone while minimizing the distraction. Many drivers turn to hands-free options that come with their phone, their car, or that they can purchase separately. Certain vehicles can pair with cellphones. The system allows a driver to link their phone to the car and conduct a phone call through the radio. There is a microphone in the car for the person to speak through, and the steering wheel will have controls to start and end a call. Once paired, a phone will automatically connect to the car upon entering it.
Phones also provide options to conduct other business hands-free, such as reading and sending text messages. The phone will read a person’s messages and allow them to recite their response. This method can get a little tricky, but it allows the driver to keep their attention on the road. If the car does not come equipped with an in-car system, users can purchase headphones or a car holder that attaches to the dashboard. The car holder provides drivers with a brace that will hold up their phones in an accessible location so they can use it to safely make calls.
If talking on the phone will just be a complete distraction, phones come equipped with their own option to prevent talking while driving. When a smartphone is in motion, a driver can set it up to automatically block phone calls and text messages until the vehicle completely stops. The phone will also send a message to certain contacts informing them that the user is driving.
Is it Illegal to Text While Driving in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania prohibits the use of any interactive wireless communication device (IWCD) while driving a motor vehicle. Wireless phones, personal digital assistants, smartphones, portable or mobile computers, or similar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing, or browsing the internet are considered IWCDs.
Global positioning system (GPS) units are exempt from the law because these devices are physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle. The penalty for any violation is a $50 fine, plus court costs and other fees. A driver will not receive any points on their permanent record.
How Big of a Problem is Distracted Driving in Pennsylvania?
As of 2018, distracted driving continues to be a major problem in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, distracted driving was a factor in 14,292 crashes that year. Out of those crashes, 63 of them were fatal. In other words, distracted driving was a factor in more than 15 percent of crashes in 2018.
Driving while using a smartphone is dangerous because it causes a person to turn their attention away from the road and reduces their reaction time while driving. Drivers need to calculate a longer distance to brake in time before hitting something or someone.
Most drivers agree that distracted driving is dangerous and should be curtailed. However, when it comes to putting those plans into practice, people fall short, according to a study by Farmers Insurance. The study captured responses from more than 1,004 people over the age of 18 years old and found that 87 percent of them believed that people who use their phone behind the wheel pose a danger to others. Despite this overwhelming agreement, 53 percent of those same motorists admitted to using the phone while driving, and 45 percent admitted that they have sent, read, or received text messages.
Additionally, about 32 percent of those surveyed said that they have participated in video chats while driving. This portion of the survey consisted of Generation Z and the millennial generation. In addition, about 28 percent said that they have either posted or viewed social media while driving, and 27 percent admitted to have participated in a game while driving. Finally, 24 percent said that they have streamed a video while driving, suggesting that distracted driving continues to be a problem among the younger generations.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Stand Up for Those Injured by Distracted Drivers
Getting hurt in a car accident is difficult enough, and the situation can be made even worse if you know the collision was entirely preventable. Distracted driving is a continuous problem, and it is important that motorists always focus on the road. If you were hit by a negligent distracted driver, one of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help get you the results you deserve. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We have offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, and we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.