PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month — and drawing attention to the dangerous behavior is apparently needed, especially in the Philadelphia region.
It’s against the law in the Commonwealth to text while driving, which includes sending, reading or writing a text-based message or e-mail.
According to administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, between the time the law took effect in early 2012 through 2014, nearly 4,000 tickets for texting while driving were issued statewide. In 2014, Montgomery County led the state with 219 distracted driving citations. Philadelphia was second with 195.
Officials say distracted driving citations increased by 43% statewide between 2014 and 2015 – with more men (67%) being cited than women (31%).
In a study released earlier this year, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 87% of drivers admit to risky behaviors behind the wheel, including distracted driving.
“Two in five drivers said they have read text messages or emails while driving,” says Jana Tidwell with AAA Mid-Atlantic, “and one in three drivers admit to typing or sending a text or email while they are driving.”
Tidwell says drivers need to put down the smart phone and keep both eyes on the road.
“Texting and driving requires motorists to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving. This is a recipe for a crash, and that’s a scary thought,” she says. “Your life and the lives of others you share the road with depend on and deserve your full attention.”
And use of cell phones isn’t the only problem. Eating and drinking, talking to passengers, using a navigation system, adjusting the radio, CD player, MP3 player and grooming all serve as distractions, as well.
The study also found that a majority of drivers are unaware of how long these distractions linger.
“The distraction from doing this type of activity behind the wheel can last for as long as 27 seconds,” Tidwell says. “That may not sound like very much, but at a rate of speed of 25-miles-per hour a driver has traveled the length of nearly three football fields during those 27 seconds that they were distracted.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people are killed annually in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers and hundreds of thousands more are injured.