Schemery Zicolello

What constitutes distracted driving?

Pennsylvania drivers are busier than ever. With the advent of cell phones, people can take their social lives and their work obligations with them. People have access to the Internet, to social media and email anywhere, at any time. In fact, as of December 2012, more than 170 billion text messages were sent in the United States each month -- many while a person was driving.

This increase in the use of cell phones and other technology has led to an increase in distracted driving. Distracted driving occurs when people are not giving their full attention the task of driving. There are many forms of distracted driving. In particular, a phone causes a lot of distraction. People who are distracted by their phones -- even just reaching for them -- are three times more prone to getting in a car accident.

According to Distraction.gov, the most dangerous form of distracted driving is texting and driving. This is because it creates cognitive, manual and visual distractions for the driver. In fact, a simple text sent at 55 miles-per-hour can be equal to driving the length of a football field with one's eyes closed.

However, distracted driving is not limited to texting or even to making phone calls. In fact, many forms of distracted driving do not involve a phone at all. Navigating -- either by reading a map or operating a GPS system -- is also a source of distraction while driving. Furthermore, personal grooming, eating and drinking are also distractions. Drivers can also be distracted by passengers or by adjusting the radio or other music device.

Distracted driving is a dangerous practice in Pennsylvania. Drivers should be aware of its dangers and avoid becoming distracted while driving. Furthermore, those hurt by distracted drivers need to understand their rights following an accident caused by texting or another form of distraction.

Source: Distraction.gov, "WHAT IS DISTRACTED DRIVING?," accessed Aug. 3, 2014

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