A New Cause of Distracted Driving in Pennsylvania

Obviously, a smartwatch cannot cause an accident; however, the use of a smartwatch while driving can distract the driver thereby contributing to the reason for the accident. Distracted driving is quickly becoming one of the most common reasons for automobile accidents in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, 13,964 crashes occurred in 2014 due to distracted driving resulting in 49 deaths and countless injuries. Distracted driving was the second most common cause of car accidents during 2014 - second only to speed-related accidents.

What Are Smartwatches?

Smartwatches are one of the latest "gadgets" that everyone must have in order to remain connected to the world. Just a few decades ago, smartwatches were only something dreamed up in the world of James Bond; however, today they are widely available and becoming more popular.

A smartwatch is a wearable device that acts as an extension of your smartphone. While a smartwatch tells you the time like a regular watch, its other functions are what make it so appealing. It connects to the internet and interacts with your smartphone and tablet to deliver real time information right on your wrist. In other words, instead of looking at your phone or tablet to see that you have an email or message, you look at your wrist. Of course, continued advances with this technology will only make the smartwatch more appealing. Unfortunately, the more a smartwatch can do the more it will distract drivers and cause automobile accidents throughout Pennsylvania.

What is Distracted Driving?

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the NHTSA, distracted driving is defined as "any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety."

Types of distracted driving include:

  • Using a smartwatch or smartphone
  • Texting while driving
  • Reading maps, emails, or other items
  • Watching a video
  • Eating and drinking while driving
  • Using your navigation system
  • Grooming
  • Talking to passengers in the car
  • Adjusting the vehicle's controls (i.e. CD player, radio, seats, mirrors, etc.)

According to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) the number of distracted driving accidents is increasing. Each day in America, nine people are killed and 1,060 are injured in a car accident involving distracted driving. Approximately 69% of drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 admitted they used their cell phones while driving and one-third of drivers polled admitted they read or sent text message and emails while driving. Alcohol-related accidents were the number one cause of teenage fatalities on our roads; however, distracted driving has now replaced drunk driving as the number one reason why teens in America are killed in automobile accidents.

What is Pennsylvania's Law on Distracted Driving?

As with most states in our country, Pennsylvania has enacted laws that make distracted driving illegal. Pennsylvania law prohibits a driver from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) while driving. Reading, writing, or sending texts, emails, instant messages and other forms of written communication using a smartphone, PDA, laptop, tablet, wireless phone, or other device is strictly forbidden while driving in Pennsylvania. The law does not specifically list "smartwatches" as a mobile device but it is clear that smartwatches fall within the category of "interactive wireless communication devices" that cause distracted driving.

Pennsylvania takes a strong stance against distracted driving; therefore, the law against distracted driving is a primary offense. A law enforcement officer can stop you for distracted driving if he or she sees you using an IWCD while driving. The officer does not need any other reason for the traffic stop other than the use of an IWCD. If convicted, you face a $50 fine in addition to court costs and other fees.

Car Accidents Involving Smartwatch Distractions

Accidents caused by distracted drivers result in traumatic and life-altering injuries. Smartwatches are simply one of the most recent causes of distracted driving. Victims of distracted driving suffer great physical, emotional, and financial losses due to the negligent, reckless, and careless behavior of a distracted driver.

Injured By a Distracted Driver in A Car Accident? Talk To A Pennsylvania Injury Lawyer Today For Free

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your losses. Contact the experienced Harrisburg car accident attorneys of Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC for a free consultation. We want to seek justice on your behalf from the at-fault driver who caused your injuries, put our experience to work for you.


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