In his recent contribution to the Legal Intelligencer, Christopher Marzzacco of Anapol Weiss cites the alarming statistic that distracted driving caused 15,000 crashes in 2015 in Pennsylvania and warns that this figure is not likely to reduce until, like drunk driving, distracted driving becomes socially unacceptable. Mr. Marzzacco persuades us that stronger legal consequences will help facilitate this social change by demanding the public more deeply consider the personal consequences of distracted driving.
A number of recent and upcoming bills in both Pennsylvania and surrounding states contribute in unique ways towards a reconsideration of what constitutes distracted driving and why we do it. In Pennsylvania, it is currently illegal to text and drive, but not talk and drive. A new bill aims to ban all cell phone use while driving and allow PA to catch up with other states in its recognition of cell phone use as inherently dangerous. Another bill strengthens judicial sentencing authority while allowing victims and their families to seek punitive damages from texting and driving accidents.
The boldest idea highlighting the dangers of texting and driving extends liability to a person who knowingly texts a driver behind the wheel. While a controversial issue, it sends a clear message that texting while driving is a deadly problem and that safe driving is a shared responsibility.