Philadelphia Texting While Driving Accidents
Text messaging for drivers is illegal in most states and the District of Columbia. Despite the fact that it’s against the law, many drivers seem to think that applies only to other people. On any street in Philadelphia, you can witness several drivers looking at their phones while their car is in motion.
Texting while driving is a dangerous, distracting activity that results in injuries and deaths all over the country. When a texting driver causes a serious accident that harms other people, they should be held accountable for their actions. If you’ve suffered an injury in a crash and believe another driver’s text-related distraction is to blame, you might be eligible for compensation. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Wapner Newman to request your free case consultation: (800) 529-6600.
Pennsylvania Texting and Driving Laws
Pennsylvania is one of the many states that have passed legislation banning texting by all drivers. This is a primary law in Pennsylvania, which means a police officer can ticket a driver for violating the law without having observed any other traffic violation. The law also forbids drivers from reading, writing, or sending any text communication, including email, chat messages, social media messages.
Enforcing the law is a challenge, because Pennsylvania does not ban the use of a handheld phone for calls or for accessing GPS navigation. So police can’t easily tell from a distance whether a driver is texting or simply dialing a phone number.
One reason people may not take the texting ban seriously is that the penalty is rather insignificant, compared to penalties for other traffic offenses: $50, with no points assessed to one’s driver’s license. By way of comparison, the citation for failing to yield at a stop sign is three points, plus a $25 fine.
The points system helps the state keep tabs on irresponsible or careless drivers. Once someone accumulates six points, they must take a special safety exam within 30 days of notification from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. If they fail to pass the exam in that time, their license is suspended.
Pennsylvania’s traffic laws also penalize drivers for most repeat offenses, with the fines increasing at the second, third, and fourth citations. But a driver could be pulled over four times in one day for texting while driving, and the penalty would still be $50 each time.
A Disconnect Between Knowledge and Behavior
A study in 2014 asked 1,000 drivers for input on texting while driving – 98 percent of them said it’s dangerous, but 75 percent admitted to doing it themselves. The study’s leader said some people compulsively interact with their phones while driving, and it’s a habit that could be difficult to break.
Drivers who text behind the wheel may think that if they’ve never had an accident, they can safely text and drive. And riding in cars with drivers who are texting reinforces the misconception that texting isn’t dangerous.
Drivers Must Take the Lead
One of the easiest ways to avoid the urge to text or to read texts, is to put one’s phone in “airplane” mode or do-not-disturb mode before getting in the vehicle. There are also several smartphone apps that sense when a car is in motion, disabling access to email, social media, and texting functions. Any of these solutions could help reduce the rate of crashes caused by texting drivers, but not unless drivers are willing to recognize the risks of texting.
Friends and family members can help by speaking up when they’re a passenger and the driver is texting. Telling someone, “That makes me uncomfortable,” or “I’m afraid to ride with you when you’re texting,” could perhaps influence them to think about their actions.
Consequences of Texting While Driving
When a texting driver causes a crash and kills someone, the victim’s family members struggle to understand how that driver’s need to text was more important than their loved one’s life. In numerous public awareness campaign videos about the dangers of texting while driving, some of those final pre-crash texts are revealed, and they are usually unimportant, casual remarks. Even though some drivers may feel they can’t control their urge to text while driving, that’s no excuse – it’s their responsibility to change their behavior.
If you’ve been injured in a crash with a texting driver, we want to hear from you. Contact Wapner Newman online, or at (800) 529-6600, to request your free, no-obligation case consultation.