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Pennsylvania Distracted Driving Law

Texting

Distracted driving has rapidly become one of the biggest dangers on roads in Pennsylvania and across the country. Distracted driving is, in fact, the second leading cause of driver-error accidents in the state, behind only speeding. You are more likely to be hit by a distracted driver than by a driver whose error was caused by intoxication. Unsurprisingly, the principal cause of distracted driving is cell phone use, and texting while driving is a major cause of injury and fatal crashes around the country. Pennsylvania is one of several states that have enacted prohibitions on texting while driving. Continue reading to learn about Pennsylvania’s distracted driving law, and call a seasoned Chestnut Hill car crash lawyer for help after a car accident in Philadelphia.

Defining “Distracted Driving”

Distracted driving encompasses “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving,” according to Pennsylvania safety officials. Safety experts generally categorize driver distraction into three categories:

  • Visual: Anything that takes your eyes off the road
  • Manual: Anything that takes your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: Anything that takes your mind off of driving

Texting while driving is considered one of the worst forms of distracted driving because it encompasses all three types of distractions. For that reason, states around the country have been enacting bans on texting and other cell phone usage while driving.

Pennsylvania’s Driving & Cell Phone Laws

Pennsylvania has several laws that pertain specifically to driver distraction caused by cell phone use. As of 2012, the state has had a ban on texting while driving. Specifically, PA law prohibits a driver from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) to send, read, or write a text-based communication while the vehicle is in motion. IWCDs include any wireless device that provides voice or data communication between people, including:

  • Smartphones
  • Cell phones
  • Tablets
  • Text message devices
  • Laptops
  • Audio-visual players with messaging
  • Personal digital assistants with messaging

Text-based communications include things like texting, instant messaging, posting on social media, and other forms of messaging. Drivers who are caught texting while driving face a statutory $50 fine plus court costs and fees. If the driver is a commercial driver, a conviction for texting while driving can permanently stain their driving record.

Additionally, in late 2016, Governor Wolf signed “Daniel’s Law,” which significantly enhanced the penalties for accidents caused by texting while driving that lead to serious bodily injury or death. Drivers who are convicted of vehicular homicide as well as texting while driving can receive an additional five-year prison term on top of whatever other punishment they already face.

Exceptions to the Distracted Driving Law

Pennsylvania’s distracted driving law applies only to messaging while driving. It does not apply to using a GPS or to using systems that are integrated electronically into the vehicle. Using those devices while driving is still legal. PA law also still permits the use of handheld devices while the vehicle is stationary, such as when a driver is stopped at a red light or in a traffic jam.

Additionally, the law does not yet prohibit making phone calls while driving. Some lawmakers have introduced legislation to prevent all drivers from using any handheld devices, and to prevent all drivers under the age of 18 to use any cell phones (such as to make phone calls) even hands-free, but these bills have yet to be passed and enacted. However, if someone causes an accident while talking on their phone, the use of a handheld device can be strong evidence of negligence and fault for liability purposes.

DEDICATED LEGAL HELP WITH A DISTRACTED DRIVING CAR CRASH CLAIM IN PHILADELPHIA

If you or someone you love has been injured in a distracted driving accident in Pennsylvania, you need the help of an experienced and trial-ready personal injury attorney to get the damages you deserve. Benedum Law founding attorney Christine Benedum has dedicated her career to fighting for accident victims and knows how to get her clients the compensation they deserve from those at fault. Contact a seasoned Philadelphia car accident victim attorney at Benedum Law in Chestnut Hill for a free consultation on your case at 215-529-7848 (215-LAWSUIT).

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