“Every time someone diverts their attention from the task of driving – even for a second – they are putting themselves and others at risk,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “Driving is a skill that requires one hundred percent of your attention one hundred percent of the time.”
Distracted driving is any action that draws attention away from the safe operation of a vehicle. There are three types of driver distractions: visual, causing drivers to take their eyes off the road; manual, causing drivers to take their hands off the wheel; and cognitive, causing drivers to take their mind off the road.
One dangerous activity that involves all three types of distraction – texting – has been addressed through the state’s anti-texting law, which took effect in March 2012. The law prohibits text-based communication while driving, and makes texting while driving a primary offense carrying a $50 fine.
According to PennDOT data, more than 14,800 crashes involved a distracted driver in Pennsylvania in 2015, with 66 deaths in those crashes. Over the past five years, over 11 percent of Pennsylvania crashes involved a driver distraction, resulting in more than 300 fatalities statewide.
To help avoid distractions while driving, PennDOT recommends that drivers follow these simple safety tips:
- Store or turn off cell phones while driving. If you must make an emergency call, safely pull over to the side of the road.
- If traveling alone, set your GPS, radio and temperature controls before beginning your trip.
- If traveling with pets, be sure that they are properly restrained. Better yet, leave them at home. Even a minor crash can result in a major injury to a pet if it is not properly restrained.
- Never operate your vehicle and attend to a child at the same time.
- If you drop an object while driving, leave it until you reach your destination or pull over safely to the side of the road before retrieving it.