2013-04-18 / Local & State

PennDOT Urges Motorists To Avoid Distractions, Focus on Driving

As part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, PennDOT has urged motorists to drive distraction free, and reminded drivers of the state’s law banning text-based communication while driving.

“Driving is a serious job that requires your full attention, all of the time,” Penn- DOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “Distractions come in all forms, and we all need to take personal responsibility for our actions behind the wheel – that includes avoiding distractions.”

Distracted driving can include such actions as: talking on a cellphone or texting; eating; grooming; adjusting devices such as radios and GPSs; attending to children or pets and 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.

Last March, a state law went into effect banning text-based communication while driving. Violating the law is a primary offense carrying a $50 fine.

According to Penn- DOT data, more than 14,600 crashes involved a distracted driver in Pennsylvania in 2012, with 57 deaths in those crashes. Over the past five years, nearly 11 percent of Pennsylvania crashes involved a driver distraction, resulting in more than 300 fatalities statewide.

To help avoid distractions while driving, PennDOT recommends that drivers follow these simple safety tips:

Store or turn off cellphones 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 and the state’s anti-texting law, visit www.JustDrivePA.com.

Follow PennDOT at www.twitter.com/PennDOT News.

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