Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Distracted Driving by the Numbers

Mallory Lane of the news website We Are Central PA recently highlighted the growing problem of the dangers of texting and driving in her 11/5/2012 article.  To read, please continue below or click this link.

So far this year in the United States, there have been an estimated 1.1 billion crashes as a result of distracted driving.

According to PenDot, in Pennsylvania in 2011, there were 848 crashes that were cell phone related. Six of them were fatal. In our viewing area, there were 71 crashes. One of them was fatal.

As part of the Driver's Education course at Bellefonte High School, students are required to spend at least six hours behind the wheel with an instructor.

But the Driver's Ed teacher wants to take things a step further and make sure his students really understand what it means to drive distracted.

Driving to distraction is something Mike Wilson says he sees all the time.

"We've had a number of accidents over my career here at the high school," Wilson said. "We've seen the switch from the DUI accidents to the texting and driving."

But since March of 2012, it's against the law in Pennsylvania to text and drive.

"It is one of the more difficult laws to enforce, especially because it varies by age," School Resource Officer for Bellefonte High, Jason Brower said.

Officer Brower says its new drivers that typically have trouble remembering the law.

"It's not just there to try to stop them from doing something because we want them to, it's because it can cause accidents and cause a problem," he said.

So what's the solution? Mr. Wilson's Driver's Education class is practicing their driving skills behind the wheel of a golf cart, but there's one twist.

They start off with a piece of paper, telling them what to text and then, they're off.

"It's very difficult, especially how they have the cones set up," Lindsey Beran said. "They're very narrow, which makes it even harder to try and drive and text at the same time."

Lindsey Beran is a sophomore at Bellefonte High School. She says this simulation is teaching her, "not to text and drive or drive drunk because it could hurt somebody," she said.

But for Lindsey, this lesson is about more than just practicing her driving skills.

"My one best friend was killed by a drunk driver," Beran said.

It happened back in 2010 and it's a day Lindsey says she'll never forget.

"It was really hard taking that and you can't help but not like the person, but in the end, it was something that was able to be prevented, but it wasn't," she said. "Knowing that he could have not been behind the wheel of that boat, it could have saved her life. It just kind of irritates you."

She says it's through that experience that she has learned just how dangerous distracted driving can be.

"I guess it seems like it's fun, but honestly, in the end, I don't think it's ever worth it," Beran said. "I don't think the risk of losing a life or getting severely hurt is worth one text or one drink."

If you're pulled over for texting and driving in Pennsylvania, you'll receive a $50 traffic violation ticket.

Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer who takes claims for many clients who have been injured in car accidents due to the fault of another.  For more information on his central Pennsylvania practice, please call his office at 814-946-4100 or by visiting his website at

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