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Schools turn to distracted driving in spring crash mock-ups


When prom and graduation season arrives in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, many parents may have concerns over the dangers of underage drinking and driving. As a culture we have long known that drunk driving poses serious risks on the road for injury and death. But our culture has a relatively new issue that may not receive as much attention—that is the issue of distracted driving.

Most people have heard of the issue as states all across the union experiment with ways to control the use of electronic devices in motor vehicles—one of the major sources of distraction behind the wheel in today’s world. Parents should know that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation calls the issue of distracted driving as an epidemic.

Last year, 14,000 car accidents were related to some form of distracted driving-related conduct in the state—57 people were killed in Pennsylvania distracted driving wrecks. Over the past five years, more than one in 10 of all car accidents were the result of distracted driving, according to Pennsylvania highway officials. More than 300 people have died in an accident negligently caused by a distracted driver.

For years, schools all across the country have created mock drunk driving crashes for high school students to learn first-hand the dangers of drinking and driving. The events have historically been conducted in the spring—near the prom and graduation season. Schools are joining with law enforcement to create a new type of event aimed at distracted driving these days to reflect the dangers of texting and driving behind the wheel.

The mock accident trend is moving toward creating mock fatal crashes that are intended to highlight the dangers of cellphone use, including texting, behind the wheel.

Pennsylvania law prohibits texting behind the wheel. Unfortunately, banning texting and driving did not decrease traffic accidents. Pennsylvania officials say overall traffic wrecks showed an increase despite banning texting while driving. Cellphone use in cars remains prevalent, as no current statewide bans against overall cellphone use exist under state law, according to the Pottsville Republican Herald.

Motor vehicle accident lawyers know that distracted driving poses a hazard on the road. Accident victims and their families can be left devastated when a driver chooses to look away from the road to look at an electronic device. A car accident can occur in the brief moment that a driver is distracted by cellphone use.