Multi-prong approach to reduce Pennsylvania distracted driving accidents

After almost a year in effect, the Pennsylvania texting ban only resulted in 1,302 citations statewide, according to AAA. This number illustrates just how hard it can be for law enforcement officers to enforce texting bans and that reducing the number of Pennsylvania distracted driving accidents requires a multi-prong approach.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, there were not even 200 citations for texting issued. Officers report that they have trouble distinguishing when a driver is making a call or texting. In other states, one creative enforcement effort is to have officers ride on buses to observe drivers from a higher angle to spot signs of texting.

A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distracted driving contributed to 16 percent of all deadly crashes. The Centers for Disease Control report that nationally nine people die each day because of driver distractions. Distracted driving is not limited to texting, but also includes talking on a phone, inputting an address into a GPS or any other activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road.

Pennsylvania’s texting ban was prompted in part by the death of a high school teen who was writing a text at the time of her fatal crash. Answering a text message takes five seconds on average. When a driver diverts his or her eyes from the road for that long, the vehicle can easily travel the distance of a football field. Whether a texting ban alone can reduce the number of distracted driving crashes is however open for debate.

Educational campaigns

In addition to the ban, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently launched a YouTube channel. One of the first videos posted was on the dangers of distracted driving. Other videos will highlight topics such as bicycle and motorcycle safety. Soon the PennDOT channel will also have videos specific to the Pittsburgh region.

Another approach that worked to raise awareness around impaired driving is repeatedly getting out a simple message. Jay Winsten, a professor in Harvard’s Center for Health Communication is working with Hollywood writers and actors to incorporate warnings about the risks of distracted driving in television shows. He advocates using storytelling to affect changes in behavior.

The cause of a crash is often hard to uncover

Evidence gathering is important after any car crash where the cause is unknown. Maybe a driver swerved causing an accident. Review of phone records may uncover that texting while driving was to blame for the accident.

When you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury in an auto accident, contact an experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorney as soon as possible. Witnesses may provide information or cellphone records may show that the negligence of another driver caused the accident, but after time passes, it may become more difficult to access this information. In these cases, monetary damages may be available to cover medical bills, lost wages from missed work and pain and suffering.

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