At the conclusion of the first year of a state ban on texting behind the wheel in Pennsylvania, the House of Representatives has declared April 2013 to be “Distracted Driving Awareness Month” in the commonwealth. The resolution cites national statistics from 2011 when 3,331 people died and 387,000 were hurt in distracted-driving motor vehicle crashes.

The resolution defines “distracted driving” as anything that pulls a driver’s attention away concentrating primarily on the road, including cell phone usage of any kind as well as other activities like eating, talking, smoking or operating a GPS or other electronic device.

The legislators in their resolution urge drivers in the state to be mindful of the safety of others and refrain from driving while distracted and that distracted driving dangers be the topic of conversation among young drivers, parents, teachers and leaders.

The commonwealth’s ban on texting behind the wheel

AAA is a huge proponent of texting-while-driving bans and asked the state of Pennsylvania for enforcement data for the first year of a new ban on texting while driving, which became effective on March 8, 2012. The Morning Call, citing the AAA figures, reports that state law enforcement issued 1,032 traffic citations under the new ban in the first year, with the highest numbers in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Allegheny Counties.

The new law carries a fine of $50 for texting behind the wheel while operating a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania. The law prohibits texts being sent, read or composed on an “interactive wireless communications device” while driving and defines banned “text-based communications” as any of the following:

  • Text messages
  • Instant messages, known as IMs
  • Electronic mail, known as email
  • Any other written communication

Distracted driving relevant in personal injury lawsuits

It is common knowledge that the growing use of cell phones to engage in texting behind the wheel has contributed to distracted-driving accidents, and a Pennsylvania conviction for texting while driving could be relevant for an injured plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit in which texting by the other driver contributed to the incident and showed negligent or reckless driving.

Even worse, if a driver, passenger, motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian is killed by a distracted driver, evidence that the driver had been texting would be extremely important in a wrongful death lawsuit.

An experienced personal injury attorney can provide advice and counsel about potential legal remedies like a personal injury action to anyone harmed, or whose loved one was killed, by a distracted driver.

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