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Text ban does not prevent distract driving

Pennsylvania has laws in place that makes texting and certain other activities illegal. However, not all distracting driving involves an electronic device. What this means for drivers in the Keystone State is that law enforcement officers may be able to crack down on those using electronic devices behind the wheel - to the extent that they are able - they can do little to protect motorists from other kinds of distracted driving.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation defines distracted driving as anything that prevent s you from paying attention to the road. It can be anything from combing one's hair to reaching for a dropped French fry. Distracted driving is one of the biggest dangers on the roads, just behind drunk driving. A large percentage of the car accidents that occur in the state involve distracted drivers. And the text ban is simply insufficient to protect other motorists from the havoc they wreak on the roads.

The text ban only makes it illegal to an electronic device to write, read, or send a message of any sort while behind the wheel of a vehicle. It makes no mention of other types of distracted driving nor does it even fully ban use of electronic devices while driving. Under the law, motorists are allowed to look up a contact, dial a phone number, and use the GPS function on a phone.

This, in turn, creates loopholes that make the text ban itself extremely difficult to enforce. A driver would merely have to claim that they were using the device for one of the permissible reasons, and the officer would have to accept the excuse at face value: Drivers are not required to present their phones to law enforcement officers for examination.

Pennsylvania motorists simply have to be cautious and drive defensively. In the event a distracted driver causes and accident, the best recourse for a victim is to seek legal recourse against the driver. Pennsylvania's tort laws offer remedies where the text ban fails.

Source: Pennsylvania Consolidates Statutes, Title 75 ยง 3316, accessed Feb. 12, 2018.

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