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Has PA's stronger ban on texting succeeding in protecting motorists?

It is important for Pennsylvania drivers to stay mindful of the risks that both texting and their fellow drivers can pose.
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    December 08, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Many people in Philadelphia know that distracted driving is a common accident cause and a smart behavior to avoid. It has been over a year and a half since a law to make texting while driving a primary offense passed in Pennsylvania, giving drivers even more incentive to set aside their phones.

Early educational and enforcement efforts have led to some successes, but statistics show that there is still room for improvement. It is important for Pennsylvania drivers to stay mindful of the risks that both texting and their fellow drivers can pose.

Early figures for Pennsylvania

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there have been some successes since texting and driving became an offense that drivers could be pulled over for. The following statistics are encouraging:
- During the first half of 2012, fewer Pennsylvania teens were fatally injured in car accidents, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
- Nationally, meanwhile, the number of fatally injured teen drivers went up 19 percent during the same period, according to the GHSA.
- There were 1,302 Pennsylvania texting citations written during the first year of the ban, according to AAA.
- In 2013, only 4 out of 113 texting citations issued during a month in one county were given to teenagers.

Although the last figure is not intended to represent a broader trend, it is impressive, since teenagers are an age group that more frequently texts and drives. The fact that they represented such a small portion of citations indicates that educational efforts may be succeeding in changing the habits of young drivers.

Still, there are limits to the effects of any traffic law, especially one regarding texting. It is instructive to consider national statistics and results in other states to see how effective these laws can be.

Broader statistics

Bans on texting and driving send the right message to drivers, but some people worry about how much of an impact these bans really have. It can be difficult for law enforcement officials to catch offenders, and proving that a driver was texting can be another issue entirely.

A USA Today survey taken earlier this year calculated that, on average, state agencies issue one texting citation a day, if that, even though texting has been established as a common car accident cause that occurs far more often than once a day. In 2011, according to USA Today, more than 380,000 people were injured in distracted driving crashes. Texting is not the only form of distracted driving, of course, but it is very common and is often argued to be one of the most dangerous forms.

There is still reason to remain optimistic about Pennsylvania's texting and driving ban. However, parents shouldn't assume that they don't need to talk extensively to their children about this danger, and drivers shouldn't assume that other motorists will always be engaged and attentive. Inevitably, despite new laws and educational efforts, there still will be drivers who behave negligently.

If you or a loved one has been hurt by the actions of a distracted driver, you should contact an attorney to learn about seeking compensation.

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