Pennsylvania’s distracted driving law prohibits any driver from using a phone or other device to send, read, or write a text-based communication while his or her vehicle is in motion. It is a primary offense which means that law enforcement can pull someone over if there is a reasonable suspicion that the driver has been texting while driving. Other states list texting and driving as a secondary offense meaning they can only be ticketed for the offense if pulled over for a different traffic violation. There is a $50 fine, plus court costs and other fees, imposed in Pennsylvania for those convicted of distracted driving.
Despite 48 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands all passing legislation that makes it illegal to text while driving, the problem persists. People are dying or suffering serious injury as a result. We seem entangled in our phones at a level that we cannot somehow unravel ourselves from their hold on us. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), however, has not given up. It has launched the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Campaign in an effort to combat the persistent threat posed by texting while driving.
U Drive. U Text. U Pay. NHTSA’s Campaign Against Distracted Driving
According to the NHTSA, it is estimated that over 26,000 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers from 2012 to 2019. In 2019 alone, there were 4,142 fatalities in distracted driver crashes. That means that 9% of the fatal crashes in 2019 involved distracted drivers.
Distracted driving can actually mean a variety of things, although texting has come to be the most notorious form it takes. Distracted driving can be anything that takes your attention away from the road and the task of driving. Talking, eating, applying makeup, maneuvering your navigation system, or even changing your radio station can all be seen as engaging in distracted driving. Texting while driving has been singled out as a particularly dangerous form of distracted driving due to the fact that it can take a driver’s eyes away from the road for such a significant amount of time, it takes the drivers mental attention and focus away from driving, and it is a habit that so many Americans seem unable to break.
While drivers from 16 to 24 years of age seem to be more likely to be distracted by electronic devices while driving, it seems as though many more of us are at risk of falling into this dangerous driving behavior and we are putting ourselves and others in danger on the roads as a result. To help combat the dangers of distracted driving, the NHTSA recommends some different safety tips. For instance, it is recommended that if a text needs your immediate attention, either to read or to send, then you should first pull over to a safe location and park your vehicle. Alternatively, you could have a passenger act as your “designated texter” and be tasked with handling all of your texting needs while you are driving. Should none of these arrangements work for you and you find yourself unable to resist the urge to look at your phone while driving, consider keeping your phone in your trunk for the ride.