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THE DANGERS OF DISTRACTED DRIVING

How long does it take to read this rather short, not so complicated sentence? A little under five seconds. But if you’re driving at 45 miles per hour while reading it, that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field – three hundred feet -- without looking at the road. It sounds incredibly dangerous, and it is. Yet at any given moment during the day, about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving in the United States.  

Surprisingly, texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving while intoxicated. One out of every four car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. In 2016, there were 3,450 distraction-related deaths. Over 350,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by distracted driving.

It’s important to keep in mind that hands-free technologies don’t eliminate distracted driving dangers. These technologies can mentally distract drivers even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. Research shows that potentially unsafe levels of mental distraction can last for as long as 27 seconds after completing a distracting task.

Distractions Other Than Cell Phones

Although cell phone use is the most common form of distracted driving, HKQ Law Attorney Michelle M. Quinn points out that it’s certainly not the only one. Drivers can also be distracted by:

  • Changing the music
  • Smoking
  • Checking their GPS or a map
  • Adjusting seat belts
  • Eating and drinking
  • Putting on makeup or grooming
  • Talking to passengers in the car
  • Searching through a purse or wallet
  • Adjusting temperature controls or mirrors
  • Pets in the car
  • Rubbernecking
  • Daydreaming
  • Noisy children
  • Using a complex car infotainment system

In short, anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road, or your hands off the wheel is a distraction.

Susceptible Teens

Teenagers are more susceptible to distracted driving crashes than adults are. An analysis by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that distracted driving contributed to over half of automobile crashes involving teen drivers. NIH-funded researchers found that novice teen drivers were eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing a phone; seven or eight times more likely when reaching for a phone or other object; almost four times more likely when texting; and three times more likely when eating. A teen driver with one passenger doubles the risk of getting into a fatal car accident. With two or more passengers, they are five times as likely.

Dangerous… and Unlawful

Distracted driving isn’t just dangerous. Depending on the state, it may also be unlawful. In Pennsylvania, it is a primary offense for motorists to use interactive wireless communication devices such as cell phones, personal digital assistants and portable or mobile computers to send, read or write messages while a vehicle is in motion. A primary offense allows a police officer to pull motorists over even if no other violation is involved. The summary offense for texting while driving carries a $50 fine. (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 75 § 3316)

Reducing Distractions

Here are some ways to reduce driving distractions:

•   Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle.

•   Finish grooming – and eating – at home.

•   Secure children and pets before you get started. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely.

•   Secure loose items which could roll around in the car, and create a distraction.

•   Adjust mirrors, temperature, sound system, GPS and other settings before you start driving.

•   Pay attention to the road. Use your mirrors and watch out for pedestrians, cyclists, and   other drivers.

•   Don’t use cell phones while driving, except in absolute emergencies.

•   Never use text messaging, email functions, video games or the internet while driving.

If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident caused by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver, call HKQ Law at (800) 760-1529 to schedule your no-obligation consultation.

About Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn, PC

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Reports, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history, totaling over a half billion dollars on behalf of injured clients. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm for personal injury and medical malpractice litigation in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at www.HKQLaw.com or by calling (800) 760-1529.

				

 

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