Recent reports of rising accident rates due to distracted driving in Pennsylvania and across the country keep people on edge as they head out to work, run errands or take family trips. Whether it is observing erratic driving patterns, drifting, or sudden stops in the rearview mirror or up ahead, behavior like this makes drivers wary of getting into an avoidable crash.
Sadly, it is our youngest drivers who are most likely to be distracted drivers than other age groups. Distracted driving was responsible for 8% of all motor vehicle crashes in 2019 and 9% of all fatal accidents, but 16% of these accidents involved a driver under the age of 20. Teenagers not only have a greater tendency to become easily distracted while driving, but they also have less experience behind the wheel.
What distracts teen drivers?
While there are plenty of gadgets such as the car stereo system or GPS devices to draw a driver’s attention off the road, the primary source of driver distraction among teens is using a cellphone to call or read or write a text. Cellphone use is the cause of one in five car accidents involving a teen, and tragically, car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States.
Distracted driving is any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from driving. It can include any number of activities, such as:
- Eating a sandwich
- Brushing hair or checking the mirrors
- Creating a playlist or checking the GPS
- Texting or checking a text
Reading a text while driving 55 miles an hour is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. And it will take approximately three seconds for an accident to occur once a driver has become distracted.
Are there penalties for distracted driving in Pennsylvania?
Although many states have laws banning any use of a handheld device while driving, Pennsylvania law also targets the specific use of an Interactive Wireless Communication Device to read, write, or send a text message while operating a motor vehicle. While the fines are minimal and a violation carries no points on the offending driver’s license, the law serves as a reminder that highlights a pervasive problem.
Where it will likely hurt more is when the motorist sees their insurance rates skyrocket after getting a ticket. Premium increases can go up as high as 19%, and a distracted driving ticket could raise insurance premiums by as much as $762.
Although Pennsylvania follows no-fault insurance laws that prevent drivers from pursuing a claim against the at-fault driver, residents may opt out of the no-fault laws if they have a full-tort policy. Drivers who have suffered injuries because of the negligent behavior of a distracted driver can benefit from an experienced legal source to guide them through the claims process to achieve the best settlement for their case.