Driving should not be taken lightly in Philadelphia or anywhere else. Every time someone gets behind the wheel of even the smallest car, they are taking control of several thousands of pounds of metal and making it move at significant speeds. This responsibility should not be taken lightly, but all too often it is. People drive while paying attention to something else all the time, and this puts innocent people at risk. This is especially problematic when the distraction is something that driver is consciously and voluntarily doing on their own.
Among the most dangerous and least responsible ways for people to drive while distracted is when they choose to read and send text messages while on the road. Texting while driving takes the driver's eyes off the road for dangerous periods of time. It also distracts them enough in between sending and receiving texts that they are far more likely to miss road hazards and put others at serious risks of a car accident.
Texting While Driving is a Dangerous Distraction
It seems like an obvious thing to say, but texting on a cell phone is a serious distraction from the act of driving. The numbers show just how much of a distraction it can be.
One study, done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), focused on the effects of truck drivers who were texting while behind the wheel. While some of the study's results only applied to trucks and other large vehicles, many of the findings focused on the driver instead of the vehicle. Chief among these findings was a disturbing fact: The average text message takes the driver's eyes off the road for an astounding 4.6 seconds. When traveling at 55 miles per hour, a car moves the length of an entire football field in those 4.6 seconds, meaning the driver is blind for more than a hundred yards. According to the study, this made texting drivers 23.2 times more likely to cause an accident than a non-texting driver.
The Transport Research Laboratory's study came to similar results. According to them, sending a text message while driving reduced reaction times by 37%. For comparison's sake, reaction times only fell by 13% when the driver was at the legal alcohol limit.
As a result, texting while driving is a major contributor to the toll that distracted driving has had on American drivers. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that between 6% and 16% of all of the car accidents in the U.S. in 2013 were due to texting and driving, or between 341,000 crashes and 910,000.
Many Drivers Admit to Texting While Driving
Unfortunately, the serious dangers that texting and driving pose to both the drivers and to their innocent victims does not seem to matter – an extraordinary number of drivers are still willing to put people at risk so they can text.
A Harris Poll conducted in 2011 found that, out of the 2,163 adults surveyed, 91% of them know that it is unsafe to drive while texting. However, 22% of drivers who have cell phones openly admitted to texting while behind the wheel, anyway, despite the risks.
Young Drivers Especially Likely to Drive While Texting
The willingness to text and drive is especially prevalent among younger drivers, who typically think they can multitask better than older drivers. In fact, texting has been named the number one distraction for teenage drivers, with 13% of the teenage drivers involved in a crash admitting to either texting or talking on their phone at the time of the collision.
The Harris Poll found that a 49% of drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 texted while driving, including 7% who claimed they did it “all the time.” Comparatively, 24% of people between the ages of 35 and 46 said they texted while driving, and only 11% of people between 47 and 65 texted behind the wheel.
Texting and Driving in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia
The texting and driving epidemic has long since reached into Pennsylvania.
According to the Pennsylvania court system, in 2015, there were 2,857 citations issued for Pennsylvania's four laws that prohibit texting or wearing headphones while driving, and that ban commercial drivers from using a cell phone while behind the wheel, at all. This was a 43% increase from the year before, and a 99% increase from 2012's numbers, highlighting the worsening trend on the state's roads. The numbers were especially bad in Montgomery Allegheny Counties.
Unfortunately, these were only the drivers who were pulled over and ticketed for texting and driving, not the ones who caused a crash because of their choice to send or read a text message.
Pennsylvania's Texting Laws
In an attempt to promote driver safety and deter people from texting while driving, the state of Pennsylvania has created four laws:
- 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1621, which prohibits commercial drivers from texting while driving,
- 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1622, which prohibits commercial drivers from using cell phones, at all,
- 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3314, which prohibits regular drivers from using headphones while driving, and
- 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3316, which prohibits regular drivers from texting and driving.
§ 3316 is the one that is violated the most often. Drivers who text and drive and get caught doing it face a $50 ticket, a penalty that many in the state do not think is high enough to effectively deter people from texting while behind the wheel.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Getting involved in a car accident and suffering injuries from the crash is incredibly frustrating if the crash was caused by someone who was texting at the time of the collision. That someone else thought their text messaging was somehow more important than your safety is maddening, and there is no reason why you should be the one to pay for the costs of your recovery.
The personal injury and car accident attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian agree, and represent car accident victims get the compensation they need from drivers who were texting and caused a crash.
Contact our law office online or call us at (800) 529-6162.