In an era when new technology should be making the roads in Virginia and across the nation safer, there are instances when it is doing the exact opposite. Specifically, related to distracted driving.
Even with added safety features in newer model vehicles like automatic braking and warnings when drivers are drifting into other lanes, drivers who are simply not paying attention are causing a significant spike in accidents. Often, people are seriously injured or lose their lives in these collisions. Understanding the risk and how state agencies are trying to prevent accidents can provide insight into the scope of the problem.
Virginia DMV suggests strategies to prevent distracted driving
In Virginia, distracted driving fatalities have been rising. This is a national problem. To address it, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is using National Distracted Driving Awareness Month to encourage drivers to pay attention to the road, put down their devices and avoid other forms of distraction.
Statistically, 2021 saw nearly 11,300 people being injured and 117 losing their lives in distracted driving accidents in Virginia. There were more than 20,000 distracted driving accidents.
It is not just using a handheld device that is causing the distraction, although that is a major catalyst. Other distractions include rubbernecking when there is an accident or other activity outside of the vehicle and using a device for navigation.
Interacting with passengers, eating, drinking or doing something as seemingly innocuous as changing the radio can also divert a person’s eyes and attention from the road long enough to cause an accident.
The problem is so prevalent that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that an estimated 80% of accidents are due to some form of distraction. In Virginia, drivers are no longer allowed to hold a cellphone or other device when driving.
Those who are cited for texting and driving will be fined $125 if it is a first offense and double that for a second offense and beyond. Even with that, it is hard to catch every driver and many believe they can multitask while maintaining safety.
Distracted driving auto accidents can cause a litany of challenges to address
People taking to the road in any capacity – especially pedestrians and bicyclists – should pay attention to the issue of distracted driving. When an auto accident does happen, it is crucial to know what can be done to recover in every way.
Part of that may be proving that distraction was a factor. Medical costs, wage loss, the need for help to perform daily activities, permanent injuries, disfigurement and the aftermath of a fatality are all potential consequences. Having assistance can be vital to deciding what options are available and pursuing them.