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Distracted driving: A major problem that may be getting worse

Like most states, Pennsylvania has banned texting while driving. Some states have gone even further by banning use of handheld cellphones behind the wheel, but such measures are still the exception rather than the rule.

There are clear laws against texting while driving, but the behavior only seems to be getting worse. Drivers continue to engage with their cellphones and other electronic devices despite the risk of fines, and more important, the risk of serious car accidents.

While there are numerous stories (every single week) about drivers who have lost their lives in distracted driving crashes, there are also stories showing just how distracting our electronic devices can be. Late last month, law enforcement agencies in Minnesota participated in an anti-texting enforcement campaign that resulted in nearly 1,000 citations being issued.

Commenting on one particularly egregious case, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said: "We had a trooper try to stop a texting driver for two miles before the driver actually pulled over. They weren't fleeing. They were just so distracted from their texting."

Imagine being pursued by a law enforcement officer for two miles without noticing. That level of distraction could have easily led the driver to kill a pedestrian, a bicyclist or another driver.

Just like drunk driving, the crashes that result from distracted driving can hardly be called "accidents." When a person knows that a behavior is highly dangerous but chooses to do it anyway, the resulting injuries and deaths are predictable and preventable. As such, those who cause distracted driving crashes should face criminal punishment and a civil lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death.

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