State officials to highlight distracted driving issues
ABINGTON -- State transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday at Abington Memorial Hospital to advocate against distracted driving.
In 2012, more than 14,600 crashes and 57 deaths were attributed to distracted driving, according to state Department of Transportation data.
Text-messaging is arguably the most dangerous form of distracted driving, but PennDot says anything that causes a driver to take eyes off the road or hands off the wheel is a distraction.
That can include eating, smoking, adjusting the radio, searching for items while the car is in motion, looking at something off the roadway, or even talking to passengers.
Such behavior accounted for nearly 11 percent of all crashes in the last five years, PennDot said.
Police can't pull drivers over just for putting on makeup or eating a hamburger unless they are swerving or being demonstrably reckless, said PennDot spokesman Brad Rudolph.
But they can stop a driver who has a cellphone in hand. The state's anti-texting law imposes a $50 fine for anyone who reads, writes, or sends a text message or e-mail while driving.
The texting ban took effect in 2012, and Rudolph said it typically takes about five years to determine whether such laws have proved effective. - Jessica Parks