Personal Injury Lawyers Pennsylvania and Maine

Deadly epidemic: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Woman looking at phone while driving

Distracted drivers make Pittsburgh roadways dangerous to everyone around them. Instead of focusing on driving, motorists are talking on their phones, texting, taking selfies, or checking their email. Their carelessness significantly increases the risk that they will cause a bad car accident.

Distracted drivers create mayhem

Distracted driving is nothing new. Motorists have been eating, applying makeup, and checking road maps while behind the wheel almost since the first car rolled off the assembly line. With the distractions of new technology, though, these drivers are killing more Americans than ever before. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 3,142 people lost their lives due to distracted driving in 2019, a jump of 10% over 2018.

NHTSA says most distracted driving accidents can be prevented by following a handful of safety tips. They include:

  • Pulling over and parking when you need to talk on a phone that is not hands-free, or you want to use social media to text, post status updates, etc.
  • Designating a trusted passenger to handle the tasks of texting, messaging, posting, and placing and receiving phone calls.
  • Turning off the phone if you do not trust yourself to ignore it. Other suggestions include placing it in the glove compartment, back seat, or even the trunk.
  • Speaking up if you are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver.
  • Challenging friends and family to pledge not to drive distracted.

Distracted drivers can face harsh penalties

Pennsylvania drivers cited with distracted driving can be charged with a summary offense that includes a $50 fine, the payment of court costs, a surcharge, and other fees. In actuality, the ticket can cost more than $100.

Under “Daniel’s Law,” the penalties are a criminal offense and stricter if a driver who is texting causes injuries or death. Penalties include:

  • A jail sentence of two years for causing “serious bodily injury” while texting
  • A jail sentence of five years for causing a fatality

Distracted driving citations do not add points to your license. They are, however, included on your record if you have a commercial driver's license. Non-commercial drivers who receive a citation, therefore, will not experience an increase in insurance rates. The exceptions are if you committed a moving violation or caused an accident while texting, which means you can expect to pay more for insurance.

Take aggressive action against distracted drivers

Anyone who drives while distracted is sending a message: “I don’t care. My text/phone call/social media post is more important than your life.”

This is an attitude you may face if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver. The driver responsible for your injuries is probably never going to admit they were at fault and might try to blame you instead. That means your case could come down to your word against theirs.

Keep in mind that one innocent mistake on your part can undermine your entire claim. At the same time, an insurance company might pressure you into accepting a lowball financial settlement. While the money may be tempting to accept, especially if you are out of work and facing unpaid bills, most of the time these initial settlement offers don't even come close to covering all of your accident-related expenses.

At Romanow Law Group in Pittsburgh, our car accident lawyers know how to fight for you in negotiations and in court. Our dedicated legal team has the expertise to stand up to large insurance companies while seeking justice and a fair financial settlement for you and your family. To learn more about your legal rights and options, contact us today for a free consultation.

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