Cellphone Dangers Are Highlighted during Distracted Driving Awareness Month
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The dangers of electronic devices and other distractions are well known. It hasn’t stopped the accident and death rate creeping up in Virginia.
Cellphone dangers are routinely highlighted during the National Safety’s Council’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month. However, the death and injury rate continues to rise in Virginia. New measures to tighten up the state’s laws on using cellphones at the wheel again failed in 2019 despite being backed by the House and Senate in Richmond.
This week, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made an 11th hour bid to save a derailed bill that would have made all handheld cellphone use while driving a crime in Virginia.
Governor Northam visited the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to kick off Highway Safety Month in Virginia on April 2.
Are Distracted Drivers Leading to a Spike in Virginia Pedestrian Deaths?
Distracted drivers and pedestrian deaths were high on Northam’s agenda. He noted Virginia saw a record number of pedestrians lose their lives over the past 10 years. In 2018, 123 pedestrians died in the Commonwealth.
Some of those pedestrians were killed by distracted drivers. According to Virginia Traffic Crash Facts, compiled by Virginia Department of Transportation, police attended 843 fatalities in Virginia in 2017. Distracted drivers caused almost a quarter of those fatal wrecks.
Virginia Department of Transportation states 14,656 people were injured in distracted driving crashes in Virginia in 2017.
The 208 deaths from distracted driving wrecks in Virginia in 2017 was an 18.2 percent increase over 2016. The trend suggests Virginia’s existing anti-texting law is doing little to stop the death toll mounting.
Governor Northam hoped an amendment to the Work Zone Hands-Free Bill would pass in the General Assembly special session, which started on April 4. Northam said:
“We have an opportunity to help save lives across the Commonwealth of Virginia and make hands-free driving the law not only in work zones, but across Virginia.”
While attempts to ban all use of hand-held phones at the wheel failed, a bill by Senator Monty Mason to ban hand-held cell phone use on highway work zones passed.
Northam tried to amend Mason’s bill to apply to all roads in Virginia. Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox ruled that amendment went beyond the scope of the bill. He prevented representatives from voting on it.
The failure of the bill means Virginia’s ban on texting and driving remains the main plank to stop distracted driving outside work zones.
State law currently bans the reading of email or text messages or drivers manually entering letters or text in a hand-held phone or another device while driving.
However, police say the ban is difficult to enforce because drivers can make calls on their devices. The rapid growth in smartphone technology fueled distracted driving accidents. However, there are many forms of distraction at the wheel.
How Serious is Distracted Driving in the United States?
Every day, nine Americans are killed and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes, states the National Safety Council. It is urging Americans to #justdrive.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts attention from driving, including texting, talking, eating and drinking, talking to people in your car, fiddling with the CDs or your radio, navigation systems, or pets or children in cars.
Drivers being ‘lost in their thoughts’ is one of the most serious types of distracted driving.
Texting is one of the most dangerous forms of distraction. The NHTSA states sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
Driving requires your full attention. Unfortunately, the modern world has so many distractions, some drivers cannot resist looking at their messages or checking social media.
Cellphone dangers are fueling the distracted driving epidemic. Please don’t take the chance. Our Norfolk distracted driving accident lawyers help many drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians who suffered terrible injuries due to distraction. If you or a family member has been hurt by an inattentive driver, please call us today at (757) 231-6443 for a free consultation.