Distracted driving was the cause of 14,805 crashes in 2015, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Of those crashes, 61 people lost their lives. In 2016, Lehigh County had 602 crashes involving distracted driving and four fatalities. The same year, neighboring Northhampton County reported 387 distracted driving car accidents.
Distracted driving is defined as driving while engaged in another activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the road. Tasks that increase the risk for having an accident include eating, adjusting the radio, using a navigation system, or using a cell phone for calls or texts. There are three categories of distraction, manual, visual and cognitive.
Manual distraction causes the driver’s hands to leave the wheel.
Visual distraction means the driver’s eyes leave the road to pay attention to something else.
Cognitive distraction occurs when the driver’s mind wanders and is not concentrated on driving the car.
Using a cell phone to call or text is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distracted behavior – manual, visual and cognitive. In 2016, police in Lehigh and Northampton issued a total of 171 citations for distracted driving. These include citations for texting while driving, prohibited use of hearing impairment devices (headphones or earphones), prohibited text-based communications (sending, reading, or writing a text message), careless driving, reckless driving, and use of a hand-held mobile phone. Over the past three years, the number of citations for illegal use of headphones or cell phones increased by 52 percent, according to data from the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts.
In January of this year, new Pennsylvania legislation took effect that provides for two-year sentences for drivers causing “seriously bodily injury,” and up to five years for texting drivers responsible for a crash involving one or more fatalities. Representative Jaret Gibbons campaigned for the penalties calling the legislation Daniel’s Law, after Daniel Gallatin who was fatally injured when his motorcycle was hit by a woman who was texting and driving. Governor Tom Wolf signed the plan in November saying that distracted driving has been “allowed to go under-punished for far too long.”
In 2012 in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, a distracted driver slammed into a group of people waiting for a bus. Two men died and the driver admitted she was searching for her cellphone at the time of the crash. She was sentenced to two to sixteen years in prison.
While some local ordinances ban cell phone use, the state of Pennsylvania does not prohibit making phone calls while driving. However, driving and using a cell phone for any kind of messaging, including texting and emailing, is illegal in Pennsylvania. PennDOT urges drivers who must make or receive phone calls to use a hands-free device or pull off the road whenever possible. Never engage in any kind of emotional or heated conversation when driving.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Represent Victims of Distracted Driving Accidents
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be eligible for compensation. The experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have been helping injured people since 1947. Let us handle your legal needs so that you can focus on your recovery. For a free consultation about your case call us at 800-222-8792 or submit an online inquiry at www.galfandberger.com. From our offices in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jerse