Pennsylvania DOT Launches Safety Campaign to Curb Distracted Driving

The act of driving is a more complicated task than many people realize. Driving requires the measurement of the distance of vehicles and objects in front, behind and to the side of the car, and it requires the simultaneous manipulation of the steering wheel and foot pedals to safely travel down the road. It is because driving is so complicated that distracted driving, such as reading a text or eating a burger while behind the wheel, poses such a hazard.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, more than 14,200 car accidents in the state last year involved a distracted driver, and nearly 60 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in Pennsylvania in 2011. To educate and warn drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, the Pennsylvania DOT has created a new website entitled, "Just Drive PA."

As the name suggests, the site encourages drivers to just drive and only focus on the road instead of engaging in other activities while driving. The website offers traffic safety information on a host of issues including impaired driving, bicycle and pedestrian safety, school bus safety, winter driving, and information on Pennsylvania's new distracted driving law.

Pennsylvania's New Texting Ban

The state's new texting-while-driving ban prohibits any driver from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device to send, read or write a text-based communication while a vehicle is in motion. An IWCD is defined as a wireless phone, smartphone, personal digital assistant, mobile computer or similar device that can be used to text, email or browse the Internet. The law defines a text-based communication as a text message, instant message, email or communication composed with an IWCD.

The penalty for violating the ban is a $50 fine plus court costs and other fees. A violation of the ban does not include loss of driver's license points and is not recorded on the driving record of a non-commercial driver. For commercial drivers, a violation of the ban is recorded as a non-sanction violation.

The law allows drivers to use a GPS device while driving and allows for a system or device that is integrated into the vehicle. The law also does not authorize the seizure of cellphones or IWCDs.

While the texting ban does not cover all forms of distracted driving, other forms of distracted driving such as using a handheld cellphone while driving are still dangerous. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident in Pennsylvania caused by distracted driving, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to review your legal options.