Pennsylvania State Police have announced a crackdown on distracted driving that will focus on Lehigh, Northampton and Bucks counties. According to a Lehigh Valley Live news report, police say this enforcement means officers will have “zero tolerance” for any type of distracted driving that diverts the motorist’s attention away from the primary task of operating a vehicle.

During this enforcement period, which is already underway, some of the specific motor vehicle violations that will be enforced include texting and driving, using a handheld mobile telephone, prohibited use of hearing impairment devices, prohibited text-based communications, and careless/reckless driving.

Distracted Driving Statistics

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents that result in injuries and fatalities in Pennsylvania, second only to speeding. In fact, distracted driving was a factor in 14,805 car accidents statewide in 2015, resulting in 61 deaths.

Nationwide, during the same year, 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 were injured in auto accidents involving distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Ten percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of injury crashes and 14 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic collisions in 2015 were reported as distraction-affected crashes nationwide.

Types of Driving Distractions

Safety experts group driver distractions into three categories:

  • Manual: A manual distraction occurs when you take your hands off the wheel or move your hands away from the task of controlling the vehicle. For example, when you reach for a water bottle or take your hands off the wheel to adjust your radio or program your GPS, that is a manual distraction.
  • Visual: A visual distraction is when you take your eyes off the road. For example, when you turn around to talk to a passenger or when you drop something and bend down to pick it up while you’re driving, such acts are essentially visual distractions.
  • Cognitive: This is when your mind wanders away from the task of driving. For example, when you’re preoccupied thinking about an argument you’ve had with a co-worker or your spouse, you’re no longer focused on what’s happening around you on the roadway. This is a cognitive distraction.

Experts say texting while driving is the worst kind of distraction because it takes your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and mind away from the task of driving.

How Can You Prevent Distracted Driving?

The best way to avoid a distracted driving crash is to not be distracted when you are behind the wheel. However, given our hectic lives and our attempts at multitasking, this is easier said than done. Here are a few tips to help prevent distracted driving.

  • Store loose items that could roll around the car so you are not tempted to reach for them when you are driving.
  • Adjust your GPS, seats, mirrors, radio and climate controls before you hit the road. Check traffic conditions and your route before you start driving.
  • Finish dressing and personal grooming at home.
  • Eat your meals or snacks before or after your trip, not when you are driving. Messy foods and drinks can especially be difficult to manage.
  • Secure children and pets before you start to drive. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them. Reaching over to the back seat can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Put aside your phone and all electronics. Don’t use your cell phones, not even in hands-free mode, when you are driving. If you need to make or take a call, pull over to a safe location.
  • Use an app that turns off all applications on your phone when you are driving. Such apps will also inform anyone who is trying to reach you that you are driving and will get back to them when you arrive at your destination.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Contact an experienced Philadelphia auto accident lawyer at KaplunMarx at 610-660-7780 to schedule a free consultation.