April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Statistics show that taking your eyes off the road even for a second when you’re driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do.
Distracted driving is anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road. “It can be changing your radio, it’s a mom driving with a bunch of kids in the background, it can be eating, I see people putting their makeup on, looking at their phones,” said Fritzi Schreffler, PennDOT Spokesperson. “I think the worst case I ever saw was on 81 North heading toward Harrisburg. I saw a car go by me, where the gentleman was in the left lane, he was speeding, he was driving with his knees, while he was texting, and he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt!”
One of the biggest driving distractions is texting. This is the second year that a law has been in place banning texting while driving. “Texting is definitely the worst in terms of taking your mind off the road, because you have to start thinking about it, you’re taking your eyes off the road, and you’re taking your hands off the wheel if you are holding the phone,” said Schreffler.
But, trying to keep people from texting behind the wheel is not easy. “Just coming to work this morning, out of nine cars that passed me at an intersection, I counted three of them that were texting,” said Sgt. Jeffry Dunbar with York Area Regional Police. “It is kind of hard to prove because by the time you see somebody, and they see you, they put the phone down and the violation has stopped. It’s kind of hard to prove without actually having the phones records, that’s pretty tough.”
According to a recently released AAA report, several local counties rank in the top 15 for texting while driving citations around the state.
As part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, PennDOT asks motorists to drive distraction free, and reminds drivers of the state’s law banning text-based communication while driving.
Distracted driving can include such actions as:
- talking on a cell phone or texting
- adjusting devices such as radios and GPS
- attending to children or pets
- interacting with other passengers in the vehicle
While all drivers should avoid distractions; for young, novice drivers, distracted driving can compound the inexperience factor and increase the risk of crash. Two years ago, a state law went into effect banning text-based communication while driving. Violating the law is a primary offense carrying a $50 fine.
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 hitting the road.
- 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.
For more information on distracted driving click here