Unfortunately, PA seems relative lenient on distracted driving use compared to other states. This is a dangerous and significant problem when it comes to the safety of drivers on our state's roads. Interestingly enough, PA does not currently have a law that prohibits drivers from using their cell phones while they're driving. Instead, PA only has a texting law that prohibits sending and receiving text messages. This means that drivers can still use social media, take pictures, or use other phone features while driving. Additionally, the fines imposed if you are caught texting while driving are minimal compared to other states. Across the state, over 18,000 citations have been issued over the past five years, and the total amount issued has increased by almost 120%. Almost all people cited were males, and most were in their 20s.
Although we may think more commonly about car and truck accidents, bus accidents are not uncommon, either. Recently, Greyhound was sued for injuries its passengers sustained while riding one of their buses from New York City to Cleveland. According to news reports, the bus crashed after the driver fell asleep at the wheel. One of the 43 passengers died and many sustained severe injuries. One passenger recently received a payment of $27M from the bus company due to the severity of his injuries, which included an amputation of one of his legs and over 30 surgeries related to other injuries.
An incident of texting while driving recently took the life of a pedestrian in PA. According to news sources, a college student was texting while driving her car in Allentown. She ran a red light and hit a minivan, which caused her car to spin into a nearby pedestrian. That pedestrian was thrown over 20 feet in the air and died soon after. The driver's cell phone data reflected that she was arguing with someone else over text at the time of the accident. Additionally, videos from the crash scene show that the driver's car did not slow down as it approached the red light at the intersection, although other cars responded appropriately according to the traffic lights.
In recent news, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that PennDOT, our state's transportation department, can be held liable for vehicular injuries caused by dangerous guardrails on our state's highways. Usually, the state cannot be sued for damages due to negligence under an act called the Sovereign Immunity Act; however, it was ruled that exemptions can be made for state guardrails that were installed negligently and whose design creates a dangerous situation. This new ruling came after a case in which a person was in a car accident during winter. The snowy and icy conditions caused the driver to spin out and hit a guardrail. The guardrail ended up spearing the car and also caused injuries to the driver. Although this exemption cannot be assumed in all car accident cases on our highways, it is an important ruling to keep in mind.
Earlier this month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced they they are planning to survey tractor-trailer drivers to see how long their commute is to their trucking jobs, especially if their commute is greater than 2.5 hours. This survey is part of a larger study that is examining commuting time as it relates to driver fatigue and safety. FMCSA plans to get feedback not only on commuting time, but also work history, schedules, annual miles they drive, and their break and rest periods.
In the Pittsburgh area this week, a section of I-70 was closed due to a large tractor-trailer accident. According to accident reports, the truck went off the road and got stuck between the guard rail and the highway. The driver was trapped inside the car and received treatment at an area hospital for his injuries. At the time of the article, there was no mention of other cars being involved in the accident.
Many of us know that summer is a big season for teen driving accidents, since students are out of school and on the roads more frequently. However, did you know what the major causes of teen driving accidents in the summer are? AAA has compiled some data to take a look at this phenomenon, what the causes of accidents are, and how we can help prevent them. According to their study, the top causes for teen driving accidents in the summer are 1) talking or getting something for someone else in the vehicle, 2) using their cell phones to talk, text, and/or use an app, and 3) attending/looking for something else inside of the vehicle.
According to a USA Today news report, the time after school lets out for the summer is considered one of the "100 deadliest days" of the summer. Taking data compiled by USAA, the article stated that about 1,000 people die in crashes with teenage drivers on the 100 day stretch from Memorial Day onward. This time results in raising the average number of car accident deaths up by 16% compared to other times during the calendar year. Distracted driving accounted for almost 60% of the crashes.
Did you know that there are apps you can download to help you be a safer driver? DMV.org listed some apps that you can put on your phone to keep you safer and less distracted when driving down our nation's roads. Some of the apps block text messages while you're driving, while others send out notifications when you've left and arrived at your destination safely. Others share your location and reward you for the numbers of safe miles that you've driven! Read more here to figure out which apps may be right for you and your family members.
According to reports via the Allentown Morning Call, Pennsylvania still has a lot of difficulty with distracted driving. According to their article, despite legislation five years ago that banned texting while driving, there has been over a 50% increase in the number of people being pulled over for distracted driving in the last three years. It is a hard position for law enforcement to be in, since drivers are still allowed to use their phones to make calls or to use apps like GPS. Commercial drivers, like truck drivers, can't use their phones at all unless they're placing an emergency call to police.