Many recent studies have directed the attention of drivers nationwide to the dangers of texting while driving. As an example, one recent study said that sending a text message while behind the wheel increased the likelihood of having a car accident the same as driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit.

As mobile technology has evolved to accommodate the 6.1 billion text messages that are sent on an average day, it is now possible to send a text without touching your phone. You might think that this is a safer method of texting, but according to a recent study, hands-free texting is just as dangerous.

The study, carried out by the Texas Transportation Institute, involved 43 licensed drivers from age groups ranging from teens to seniors. For the study, each driver drove about 10 minutes at 30 mph while not texting, texting manually and texting using a voice-to-text app on their phones. Each driver was required to send one text, read and reply to three texts and read one. Each text used a script that contained common short messages.

Regardless of the method of texting used, the study found that driver response times suffered, although drivers reported feeling safer when using hands-free texting. For both manual and hands-free texting, drivers took about twice as long to react to road conditions than when they were not texting at all. Overall driver performance was virtually identical with both texting methods, however interestingly, manual texting required less time than hands-free texting.

Texting and Pennsylvania law

Texting while driving is perhaps the most dangerous form of distracted driving. In 2011, distracted driving was involved in 387,000 injuries and 3,331 fatalities on roadways across the nation. As a result, many states have reacted to the threat by passing laws putting restrictions on engaging in distracting activities while behind the wheel.

Pennsylvania is one of such states. Under Pennsylvania law, it is illegal to use a wireless communication device to send, read or write a text-based communication while the vehicle is in motion. Violators of the texting ban commit a summary offense, which carries a fine of $50.

In addition to the fine, drivers who text and cause a car accident can also face a civil lawsuit for negligence. Under the law, negligent drivers can be held financially responsible for the expenses stemming from the injuries they cause, such as property damage, medical bills, present and future loss of wages and pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can advise you on your claim and work to ensure that your right to compensation is protected.