PennDOT: Keep hands, minds on wheel

It’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and you know what that means: Get in the habit of leaving your phone untouched while driving.

PennDOT joins the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in observing National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and reminds all motorists that driving is a skill that requires undivided attention, said a PennDOT press release.

“Every time someone diverts their attention from the task of driving – even for a second – they are putting themselves and others at risk,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said in the release.  “Driving is a skill that requires 100 percent of your attention 100 percent of the time.”

According to PennDOT data, more than 14,800 crashes involved a distracted driver in Pennsylvania in 2015, with 66 deaths in those crashes. Over the past five years, over 11 percent of Pennsylvania crashes involved a driver distraction, resulting in more than 300 fatalities statewide.

Distracted driving is any action that draws attention away from the safe operation of a vehicle. There are three types of driver distractions: visual, causing drivers to take their eyes off the road; manual, causing drivers to take their hands off the wheel; and cognitive, causing drivers to take their mind off the road.

One dangerous activity that involves all three types of distraction – texting – has been addressed through the state’s anti-texting law, which took effect in March 2012. The law prohibits text-based communication while driving, and makes texting while driving a primary offense with a $50 fine, the release said.

To help avoid distractions while driving, PennDOT recommends that drivers follow these simple safety tips:

  • Store or turn off cell phones while driving. If you must make an emergency call, safely pull over to the side of the road.
  • If traveling alone, set your GPS, radio and temperature controls before beginning your trip.
  • If traveling with pets, be sure that they are properly restrained. Better yet, leave them at home. Even a minor crash can result in a major injury to a pet if it is not properly restrained.
  • Never operate your vehicle and attend to a child at the same time.
  • If you drop an object while driving, leave it until you reach your destination or pull over safely to the side of the road before retrieving it.

For more information on distracted driving and the state’s anti-texting law, visit and look under “Traffic Safety Information.”


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