Erie Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver's attention off the road. Most people think that distracted driving only includes texting or talking on a cellphone. That is only part of the definition of distracted driving. Other activities qualify as distracted driving. Activities such as changing the radio station, supervising children or restraining a pet fall under the category of distracted driving.
Anything that keeps a driver from solely focusing on safe driving is considered a distraction: not watching the road is a visual distraction, taking hands off the wheel is a manual distraction, and thinking about or mentally juggling several things at once is a cognitive distraction. Using a cellphone involves all three of these types of distractions.
According to figures released by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, distracted-driving citations have skyrocketed. In 2017 there were 5,054 citations handed out across 67 counties. This number was up from 3,336 citations in 2016 — a 51 percent increase.
The most common offenses include texting, using a hand-held cellphone, using or wearing headphones while driving. The statistics from 2017 and 2016 compared to data from 2013 show an uptick in citations for texting and driving. In 2013 there were only 1,858 citations issued across the state, a 172 percent increase in violations over four years.
Pennsylvania's Texting-While-Driving Law
In 2012, Pennsylvania passed a texting law that bans drivers from reading or sending texts or emails while their vehicle is in motion. Nevertheless, many drivers continue to use their cellphones while driving.
The law refers to the use of Interactive Wireless Communication Devices (IWCD) to send, read or write a text-based communication while a vehicle is in motion. An IWCD may be a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smartphone, portable, mobile computer or similar devices used to text, instant message, email or browse the internet.
The Pennsylvania texting ban law overrides any local ordinances restricting the use of IWCDs. The ban does not include using a GPS, a device/system physically or electronically integrated into the car, or a device used by a school bus or any mass transit vehicle.
The texting ban is a primary law, meaning that the police can stop drivers for texting and driving without there needing to be another traffic violation. The fine for texting while driving is $50 for a first-time offense. However, with added charges, such as court costs, surcharges and additional fees, the amount may go over $100. Texting violations do not add demerit points to a driver’s record. On the other hand, commercial drivers receive a non-sanction violation on their record.
Your Erie personal injury lawyer from Melaragno, Placidi & Parini has your back. If you have been involved in a distracted driving car accident and wish to discuss filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, Melaragno, Placidi & Parini stand ready to help you navigate the legal process and obtain the equitable compensation you deserve.
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What Activities Qualify as Distracted Driving
In Pennsylvania, and across the nation, texting while driving is a growing problem. However, cellphone usage while operating a vehicle is not the only form of distracted driving. Other activities qualify as distracted driving; they include but are not limited to:
- Adjusting electronics inside the vehicle
- Talking to other passengers
- Searching for an object inside the car
- Moving an object inside the vehicle
- Personal grooming
- Crash scene cruising
- Watching events taking place off the road
If there is evidence that a driver involved in a fatal accident was driving while distracted, that evidence is admissible in court and may support the award of punitive damages against the at-fault negligent driver. In Pennsylvania, car accident victims can recover compensation from the at-fault driver and their insurance company.