Drivers used to have to be worried about other drivers being distracted by their passengers or fiddling with the radio while on the road. Now, these practices are still dangerous, but they have been surpassed by the risk that comes from drivers who are texting on their cell phones.
As cell phones have become more popular and prevalent in society, the number of car accidents caused by their use has increased dramatically. According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving results in 1.6 million crashes each year. This dangerous practice is particularly characteristic of teenagers, who are four times more likely than adults to get into accidents when talking or texting on their cell phones. The problem is not just from texting either; all the social media sites that people feel the need to check frequently, such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, could potentially take a driver’s attention away from the road and their surroundings. Cell phone use while driving has been an issue for a while now, but a change was not enacted until a southwestern Pennsylvania firefighter died and his family reacted to the offender’s inadequate penalty with outrage. Three years after this fatal accident, Gov. Tom Wolf signed Daniel’s law into existence on Nov. 4, 2016. This piece of legislation, introduced by Pennsylvania Rep. Jaret Gibbons, proposed an increase in the penalty for accidents attributed to distracted driving. The punishment for texting and driving used to be nothing more than a slap on the wrist. The driver who killed Daniel Gallatin because she was driving distracted served only 60 days in jail. No wonder the family of the victim was outraged and called for an amendment to the penalties currently in place. The new law will align the penalties for distracted driving accidents with those of drunk driving offenses. Hopefully the stricter punishment will make drivers think twice about picking up their phones while behind the wheel, a measure that will work to protect innocent victims from fatal accidents. If you or a family member have been involved in a car accident because of distracted driving, call Scartelli Olszewski to see if you qualify for compensation for your injuries.