Although many drivers think that talking on a cellphone or texting while driving is not a big deal, in reality, distracted driving can be deadly serious. In Pennsylvania, statistics show that in 2010, there were approximately 14,000 car accidents caused by distracted driving. As a result of these crashes, over 60 people were killed.
In order to address this issue, Pennsylvania recently enacted a law that makes texting while driving a primary offense – meaning that law enforcement officers can pull over a driver for texting, even if the driver has not committed any other traffic violations.
Pennsylvania’s texting while driving law prohibits every driver on the road from reading, writing or sending a text message on a smartphone, mobile computer, personal digital assistant or any other handheld device. In addition, drivers are prohibited from using any device to surf the Internet while driving.
Drivers who violate this law will face a $50 fine.
Distracted driving laws in neighboring states
Distracted driving is a serious problem around the country, not just in Pennsylvania. Some neighboring states have also passed distracted driving laws in order to address the issue. Pennsylvania drivers would be wise to stay informed of these laws so that they can stay safe and avoid getting into trouble when driving in neighboring states.
· New York. In New York, drivers are prohibited from using any handheld device for any purpose, including texting. Under this law, these behaviors are considered primary offenses.
· New Jersey. Distracted driving activities are considered primary offenses in New Jersey. In this state, all drivers are prohibited from using handheld devices for talking or texting. In addition, drivers under 21 years old and bus drivers are prohibited from using any cellphones while driving, whether they are handheld or hands-free devices.
· Maryland. In Maryland, all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving and this is considered a primary offense. In addition, using any handheld device while driving is prohibited, but in the state it is considered a secondary offense – meaning that the driver must also be in violation of another traffic law in order to be charged with talking on a cellphone.
· Ohio. In Ohio, texting while driving is a secondary offense, and all drivers are prohibited in engaging in this activity. In addition, novice drivers cannot use any cellphone, including hands-free devices.
· Delaware. In Delaware, drivers are prohibited from texting and talking on their cellphones while driving. In addition, bus drivers and novice drivers cannot use hands-free devices while driving.
Know your rights
Of course, distracted driving is more than just illegal. It is also extremely dangerous and puts everyone on the road in serious risk of harm.
When a car accident is caused by distracted driving – or any other type of driver negligence, for that matter – Pennsylvania law allows injured victims to seek financial damages in personal injury lawsuits. These lawsuits can provide compensation for losses including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can evaluate your case to help you understand your options for moving forward.