March is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The ides of March was disaster time for Julius Caesar; but for the Americans, March is designated as the National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Many agree that distracted driving is a dangerous issue of motorists so it is a worthy topic to deal with.

The State of Pennsylvania, as well as 30 others states, are joining hands in their efforts to ban drivers from texting while on the wheel. Penalty for the infringement is quite stiff: $50 as traffic citation and will total almost $136 to include additional fees.

State trooper Anthony Thomas mentioned that last year, there were more than 14,000 crashes in Pennsylvania where distracted driving played an important role. Their ultimate goal is to eliminate as much as possible accidents due to distracted driving.

The present law is limited in wording and its undeveloped precedents create problems for law enforcement.

Lt. Todd Umstead of the City Police of Lancaster believed that the law is very limited in scope. It does not specify that one cannot that you cannot dial your mobile or look at a cell phone. Of course, these are already understood but some violators will likely challenge the point in terms of law.

The law simply states that any driver who is using an Interactive Communication Device (IWCD) as sending, reading or writing a text using this communication device while inside a moving vehicle commits a primary offense.

IWCD is defined as any wireless phone or a personal digital assistant, or a smart phone, or a portable or mobile computer or any similar device that is utilized for texting, sending instant message, emailing or browsing the Internet, or any text-based communication as a text message, instant message, emailing or writing communication that is composed or received through an IWCD.

A GPS device that is a system or device that is integrated physically or installed electronically inside the vehicle, or any device used in communications that is permanently placed in a to a vehicle used for mass transit as bus or school bus are exempted from the ban..

Umstead said the difficulty lies on the fact that there are many smart phones with GPS software together with variety of games and other apps, making it difficult for police to recognize between text messaging and other cellphone-based activities,

Under Pennsylvania vehicle code, section no. 3714, Thomas said that any kind of distractions coming from the cellphones could already be cited as careless driving.

He continued that if the police officer observes that the driver’s habits are unsafe and you are clearly disregarding the safety of people or property; the individual could certainly be cited for careless driving,

Umstead said that whenever they are investigating serious accidents, they always include the distracted driving factor; if texting or cellphone was part of the crash.

Umstead and Thomas are hoping that the nuances pf the law will soon be ironed out in future court cases to establish procedures.

Thomas said that the best thing he could do is to use as much as the authority the police are given regarding distracted driving.

But most drivers on the road are supportive of the ban.

Pedro Antonetti, age 42, said that if a driver is not focused on his driving and the driver disregards the safety of others; a few minutes inattention will already be bad. It takes only seconds for road accidents to happen.

Another motorist, Brandon Dymond, 21, agreed with the same opinion. Any irresponsible driver who gets distracted is a sign of disaster on the road.

Twenty-two years old, Tiffany Napoles, gave another perspective. She said that she is not a driver but she gets scared when she sees drivers texting which is very dangerous for pedestrians.

The police are hopeful that awareness of the ban will educate the public about the dangers of texting behind the wheel.

If you have received a traffic ticket, please contact an experienced patraffic lawyer. Protect right to drive legally.

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