Distracted driving poses a significant highway threat, responsible for over 3,000 fatalities per year. There are many sources of driver distraction, and cell phones are among the most prevalent.
There are three different types of driver distraction: visual, manual and mental. In reality, even hands-free activities, such as using Bluetooth, pose a threat due to the mental distraction involved. Texting while driving is exceptionally dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction—i.e. your eyes are off the roadway, your hands are off the steering wheel, and your mind is elsewhere.
Texting while driving increases your chance of being involved in a crash exponentially. The NHTSA estimates that reading or sending a text message takes your eyes off of the road for about 4.6 seconds, which is about how long it takes to drive the length of a football field at 55 mph with your eyes closed.
There are civil and criminal implications as well. Pennsylvania has a texting while driving ban which prohibits reading or writing text-based communications when the vehicle is in motion. Although it’s only a summary offense punishable by a $50 fine, where death or serious injury are involved, a violation results in sentencing enhancements for convictions for homicide and aggravated assault by vehicle. Additionally, in a civil lawsuit, texting while driving can give rise to claims for punitive damages, which generally are not covered by liability insurance and may result in exposure of your personal assets.
Texting while driving—it’s never worth the risk.
By: Robin Schleifer Weiss, Esq.