Distracted driving is a problem throughout the United States. According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving caused over 3,400 deaths in 2016. As a testament to the prevalence of this dangerous habit, the National Transportation Safety Board listed “eliminate distractions” as one of the top safety improvements it wants to see between 2019 and 2020.
Almost anything can be a driving distraction
Every driver has a responsibility to help eliminate driving distractions. To do this, drivers should first understand what driving distractions are.
Driving distractions can be anything that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road or mind of driving. Texting and driving is especially dangerous because it does all three.
Some other examples of driving distractions, include:
- Looking for items on the floor
- Applying makeup
- Tending to children
- Road rage
Understanding the law
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for drivers to text, instant message, email or browse the internet on any interactive wireless communication device, such as a cell phone, tablet or laptop computer. This ban does not include GPS devices or devices that are physically or electronically integrated into a vehicle, although these devices could still become driving distractions.
Avoiding distracted drivers
Although every driver has a responsibility to avoid distractions, no one is able to control the actions of others. As you are driving, remain vigilant for drivers who appear to be having trouble controlling their vehicles. A distracted driver may drift out of his or her lane, break frequently, or have prolonged stops at traffic signals and stop signs.
If you notice signs that someone may be driving distracted, give the vehicle plenty of space to maneuver and be prepared to react defensively to unexpected actions. If the driver presents a severe hazard, consider safely pulling over and reporting the license plate number to the authorities.
While many distracted driving incidents can be avoided, sometimes a crash happens anyway. If you were injured because of the actions of a distracted driver, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses.