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Jana Tidwell
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O: (302) 299-4426
C: (302) 353-6563
jtidwell@aaamidatlantic.com

Kathleen Zinszer
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O: (302) 299-4168
C: (610) 291-7312
KZinszer@aaamidatlantic.com

AAA Provides Testimony for House Bill 1684 – Distracted Driving Legislation Calling for Hands Free Driving

 

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month;

Philadelphia-Area Drivers among the Most Distracted Behind the Wheel

 

PHILADELPHIA, PA (April 4, 2018) Distracted driving is a growing problem on roadways across the country and in Pennsylvania and April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a seemingly fitting backdrop for a Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee hearing for House Bill 1684. HB 1684 is an Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in licensing of drivers, further providing for schedule of convictions and points; in rules of the road in general, prohibiting calls on hand-held mobile telephones; and imposing a penalty.

 

Ted Leonard, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania AAA Federation, provided testimony Tuesday (April 3) on the proposed distracted driving legislation, telling members of the House Transportation Committee that AAA supports comprehensive distracted driving legislation (laws that penalize drivers for being distracted by any source of distraction, not just electronics, while driving) and noted that the ban only applies when the car is in motion. He cited that AAA recommends drivers not use cell phones for non-emergency calls while operating a vehicle even if the car is stopped. Leonard also noted that the bill only bans engaging in a call while on a handheld phone and that the definition of “engaging in a call” was somewhat narrow. He cited that the term does not include holding a handheld mobile phone to activate, deactivate or initiate a function of the phone which may allow for use of the phone for other functions such as playing a game or taking a picture.

 

“Distracted driving continues to be a growing safety concern on our roadways,” said Ted Leonard, executive director, Pennsylvania AAA Federation. “AAA supports comprehensive driving legislation.  We continue to warn drivers not to use a cell phone – whether handheld or hands-free – while behind the wheel. Hands-free is not risk free. Distracted driving not only increases the likelihood of getting into a crash but also the severity of a crash.”

 

In its most recent survey of AAA members in Pennsylvania, 85 percent favor passing a state law banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving.

 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reports that there were 1,188 total deaths on Pennsylvania roads in 2016. Sixty-one of those deaths were the result of a crash where a distracted driver was a contributing factor. Information by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, the administrative arm of the state Supreme Court, shows police statewide wrote 5,054 distracted driving citations compared to 3,336 in 2016, a 52 percent increase and the highest increase year-over-year since 2013.

 

According to PA Courts InfoShare, distracted driving citations increased by 52 percent statewide in 2017 – and have increased 172 percent since 2013. In Pennsylvania all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, which includes sending, reading or writing a text-based message or e-mail, and from wearing or using headphones or earphones while the car is in motion.

 

Top 10 counties with the most distracted driving citations:

  1. Montgomery 620 citations - up 64 percent since 2016, up 254 percent since 2013

  2. Allegheny

  3. Philadelphia – 216 citations – unchanged since 2016, up 11 percent since 2013

  4. Chester - 339 citations – up 63 percent since 2016, up 183 percent since 2013

  5. Bucks – 294 citations - up 93 percent since 2016, up 160 percent since 2013

  6. York

  7. Delaware – 208 citations - up 64 percent since 2016, up 160 percent since 2013

  8. Cumberland

  9. Lancaster

  10. Berks

Source: PA Courts InfoShare

 

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety - Distracted Driving Research

 

Traffic Safety Culture Index

Distracted driving tops drivers’ list of growing dangers on the road according to a survey released just last week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  The annual Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that 88 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise, topping other risky behaviors like aggressive driving, drivers using drugs and drunk driving.  The proportion of drivers who report talking on a cell phone regularly or fairly often when behind the wheel jumped 46 percent since 2013.  Nearly half (49 percent) of drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving and nearly 35 percent have sent a text or email.  Despite their behavior, nearly 58 percent of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, while 78 percent believe that texting is a significant danger.


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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit www.AAA.com.

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