Reports suggest distracted driving is on the rise in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania authorities are catching more distracted drivers, and surveys and research indicate that driver inattention remains alarmingly common.

In 2012, the latest year for which the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports crash data, over 14,600 Pennsylvania car accidents involved distracted drivers. The same year, 57 people lost their lives in fatal distracted driving accidents. Additionally, there may have been even more distraction-related accidents in which inattention was never formally identified as a factor.

Sadly, distracted drivers may pose an even greater threat to Pennsylvania motorists today than they did in 2012. Reports suggest that, despite legal bans, distracted driving is becoming more common among people in Pittsburgh and other parts of the state.

A growing epidemic

According to The Pennsylvania Tribune, the number of drivers receiving citations for distracted driving has risen over the last few years. In 2012, Pennsylvania authorities issued 1,190 citations for distracted driving; last year 1,410 drivers were cited for the same offense. More unusual distractions are also providing grounds for more citations. For example, from 2012 to 2014, the number of people cited for wearing headphones while driving rose from 523 to 711.

These changes could simply indicate that law enforcement authorities are becoming more adept at detecting and citing these risky behaviors. However, according to The Pennsylvania Tribune, some authorities also report seeing an increase in distracted driving. As technology becomes more advanced and accessible, drivers who multitask while at the wheel may only become a more prevalent threat.

Dangerous driver habits

Several studies and surveys completed over the last few months have revealed that driver inattention is alarmingly common today. For instance, an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study and an Erie Insurance poll produced the following troubling findings:

  • About 30 percent of drivers surveyed stated that they text while behind the wheel. One out of twenty-five survey respondents also reported taking selfies while driving.
  • Non-electronic distractions are also alarmingly common. For example, 15 percent of survey respondents do their hair while driving. Additionally, 9 percent change their outfits, and 8 percent apply makeup.
  • Distractions such as cell phones may cause a large proportion of serious teen car accidents, according to the AAA study. Just before 60 percent of the moderate to severe crashes that researchers reviewed, teens were distracted.

Research increasingly indicates that, even when people recognize the risks of multitasking while driving, they are still inclined to do it. According to Fox News, one AT&T survey found that over 90 percent of drivers understand that texting while driving is dangerous and do it anyway. This finding could help explain why distracted driving remains such a prevalent problem.

Recourse for victims

At present, Pennsylvania traffic laws ban drivers from texting, while allowing other forms of cell phone use and distractions. Additionally, as a comparison of crash and citation data shows, enforcement of the texting ban is limited. Together, these issues may leave motorists in the state at a serious risk of distraction-related car crashes.

When drivers engage in unnecessary distractions and cause others harm as a result, they may be considered negligent. Even if a distracting activity isn't outlawed, a driver may be held responsible for causing an accident while engaging in the activity. In most cases, accident victims may benefit from speaking with an attorney to determine whether legal recourse is available.

Keywords: distracted, driving, accident, injury