Police are noticing an increase in distracted drivers on Virginia’s roads, more specifically, drivers who text while driving. Texting while driving has become a major problem across Virginia and the United States as a whole, leading to an increase in related automobile accident injuries and fatalities. A Virginia ban on texting while driving, which took effect about three months ago, seems to have had little effect on the incidence of driving and texting.
The issue of texting while driving has caught the attention of the United States government as well. President Barack Obama signed an order last week which banned federal employees from texting while driving in federally owned vehicles or while on official government business. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that “distracted driving should become as socially unacceptable as drunken driving” at a two day summit in Washington, devoted to distracted driving.
The Department of Transportation reported in 2008 that “5,870 people were killed and 515,000 were injured last year in crashes where at least one form of driver distraction was reported. Driver distraction was involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes last year and was prevalent among young drivers.” These statistics are encouraging a movement in Congress towards the support of a nationwide ban on texting while driving.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute observed actual car and truck drivers on Virginia’s highways. The results of the study, published in July, showed that texting behind the wheel made Virginia automobile accidents 23 times more likely to occur. In 2008, Virginia introduced its “Virginia Highway Safety Challenge” to address concerns such as those implied by the Virginia Tech study. The Challenge encourages drivers to buckle up, share the road, avoid distractions, drive drug and alcohol free and obey the speed limits to avoid personal injury and death as a result of Virginia automobile accidents.
As a Virginia automobile accident injury attorney, I strongly encourage you, as a Virginia driver, to refrain from texting behind the wheel. The New York Times has developed an activity called “Gauge your Distraction” with the goal of educating drivers as to the dangers of texting behind the wheel. Click here to give it a try. This activity illustrates just how easy it is to get in an automobile accident when driving while distracted.
As always, drivers must practice defensive driving to avoid getting in an automobile accident with a texting driver. Texting drivers will often drive in a manner similar to that of drunk drivers. Make sure that you pay close attention to drivers who are driving significantly higher or lower than the speed limit or have a hard time maintaining a direct line of travel. If you are seriously in a Virginia automobile accident with a texting driver, make sure you talk to an attorney who can inform you of your rights.