When traveling resumes, drive without distractions
Editorial: When traveling resumes, drive without distractions
Apr 28, 2020
Staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has had a positive effect on many aspects of local transportation including number of car crashes and the amount of air pollution from vehicle exhausts.
But there will be a time when highways are once again crowded with vehicles, and chances are, some of the bad habits of drivers will return. Not the least of these habits is distracted driving.
Statistics released last week show that Montgomery County led the state in the number of citations issued for distracted driving between 2015 and 2019, according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
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There were a total of 2,317 such citations issued to drivers in Montgomery County between Jan. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2019, comprising about 11.26 percent of the statewide total of 20,574 citations, according to data.
Chester, Delaware, Bucks, Berks and Philadelphia counties also made the top 10 list of counties with the most citations issued, according to the statistics.
Chester County ranked third in the state with 1,201 citations issued, or 5.84 percent of the statewide total, followed by Philadelphia with 1,140 citations issued, for about 5.54 percent of the statewide total, according to the statistics.
Berks ranked ninth in the state with 835 citations issued during the period, or 4.06 percent of the statewide total.
Delaware County rounded out the top 10 with 785 total citations issued for about 3.82 percent of the statewide total during the five-year period.
Distracted driving citations in Pennsylvania can be issued for the following reasons: using headphones while driving; using a handheld mobile phone while driving a commercial vehicle; or texting while driving. Texting includes sending, reading or writing a text-based message.
Fines for distracted driving can range from $50 to $500 plus court costs and fees.
The data also indicated that of the total 20,574 distracted driving citations issued from 2015 to 2019 about 70-percent were issued to male drivers.
About 34-percent of the people cited were in their 20s and 28-percent were in their 30s, according to the statistics. About 4-percent of those cited were in their 60s.
Local police issued 47-percent of the citations while Pennsylvania State Police issued 53-percent of the citations during the five-year period for which data was available. The greatest number of citations was issued between 10 a.m. and noon, according to the data.
The statistics also had a little bit of good news: There was improvement from 2018 to 2019.
Montgomery County recorded a decrease in the number of citations issued between 2018 and 2019, going from 577 to 443, according to the data.
According to the statistics, Pennsylvania distracted driving citations decreased by 10 percent statewide from 2018 to 2019, from 4,793 to 4,292.
When these numbers come out for the period of 2019 in which we are staying home by order of Gov. Tom Wolf, we expect they will be extremely low.
There aren’t enough drivers on the road to create a spike in citations. (Police remind motorists, however, that traffic laws still apply during a pandemic and they will pull you over and issue citations with proper protective procedures if you break driving laws on that trip to the grocery store.)
The real test of improvement will come when we’re back on the road to school, jobs and entertainment. Our hope is that this time of interruption is also a time of reflection on ways to improve our daily routines in the interests of public safety. One very simple way is to drive more safely – no texting, no headphones, no handheld phones in commercial vehicles.
Right now, we are learning a lesson in public health. A lesson in public safety wouldn’t hurt.