LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – This week in Pottsgrove High School kicks off with the news that almost every teen-ager knows by heart, but too many seemingly ignore: distracted driving, and particularly driving while texting, can get them killed. That makes it news worth repeating, the Montgomery County Health Department believes.
The department will bring its now three-year-old distracted driving awareness and prevention campaign to the high school beginning today (Monday, Dec. 4, 2017) with a program for Pottsgrove juniors, Principal Dr. Bill Ziegler reports.
Distracted driving statistics in Pennsylvania mirror those of other states. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro claims it has become “the number one cause of accidents on the roadways.” Thousands of vehicular crashes, and dozens of related deaths, are annually attributable to distracted driving, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation says.
There are plenty of ways to be distracted behind the wheel, but according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “texting is the most alarming … Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds,” it says. “At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
Of anywhere in the state, the problem apparently is worst here in Montgomery County, based on records from the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts. Between 2014 and 2016, its figures show, 829 individuals were issued citations for engaging in text-based communications while piloting a vehicle. Allegheny County ranked second, followed by Philadelphia, York, and Chester counties.
Police agencies are responding to the problem with increased enforcement. The schools, of which Pottsgrove is the latest example, are responding with more education.
Ziegler makes clear, though, that parents can choose to have their juniors opt-out from participating in the program. They should make their wishes known by contacting the high school by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo and video from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration via YouTube;
Graphic from the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts