Pennsylvania Texting-While-Driving Ban Now in Effect, but Is it Enough?

Pennsylvania has recently joined a growing majority of U.S. states that limit drivers' use of hand-held electronic devices while behind the wheel. On March 8, 2012, Pennsylvania became the 35th state to ban texting while driving with the hopes of reducing distraction-related accidents - but some commentators have already criticized the new law for not doing enough to keep drivers focused on the road.

The new texting-while-driving ban is not limited strictly to cell phones; it applies broadly to phones, computers and any other devices that can be used to send or receive texts, emails or similar messages. Significantly, however, the new law does not prohibit talking on hand-held phones, a point some critics view as a shortcoming. Research has shown that talking on a cellphone while driving creates a level of impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent, the legal limit at which a driver is presumed intoxicated.

Whether or not the law goes far enough in limiting the use of cellphones and texting, it nevertheless marks an important step in the right direction for preventing accidents and injuries caused by distracted driving in Pennsylvania. While any type of distraction increases a driver's chance of causing a crash, texting is among the most dangerous forms of distraction behind the wheel because it occupies a driver's eyes, hands and concentration all at once.

Research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that sending or receiving a text message takes a driver's eyes away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds - the equivalent of the length of a football field when traveling at 55 miles per hour. Compared to a driver who is focused completely on the road, the researchers found that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to crash.

Considering the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's estimate that 13.5 million U.S. drivers using a handheld device at any given time, texting while driving is a major safety concern for everyone on the road - even those who don't engage in the risky habit themselves. In Pennsylvania, 65 people were killed in distraction-related accidents in 2010, with 11 of those deaths attributed to cellphone use.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver in Pennsylvania, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn how you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries, medical expenses and lost income.