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| Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn

A shocking report submitted to the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization revealed Hampton Roads had the highest car crash rate among Virginia (VA) urban areas from 2006 to 2008. To make matters worse, fatal car wrecks are increasing. There were 153 car accident deaths in 2008, a 19 percent increase since 2003, according to the Virginian Pilot.

This report indicates Hampton Roads has some major work to do regarding road safety. In an ideal world, the car accident rate and fatal car crash rate would be zero, but a more realistic goal for the seven cities would be to get rid of the dubious honor of having the highest car crash rate.

How can we decrease those accident numbers? Well, 64 percent people killed in car crashes were not wearing their seat belt. The Virginia General Assembly is considering a law that would make not wearing a seat belt a “primary offense” as opposed to a “secondary offense.” Basically, this change means a police officer can pull you over if they see you aren’t wearing your seat belt. I wrote about this proposed legislation and believe the new accident report only reinforces the need to pass this bill during the current session.

Another strategy would be to stiffen the new laws restricting texting while driving and restricting cell phone use to only a hands-free device. One of the leading causes of fatal car wrecks was distracted driving, according to the report, and people are most commonly distracted while trying to drive and operate a cell phone/text. Our firm recently published a consumer report about the risks associated with distracted driving. Take advantage of the free download here.

Whatever ideas/strategies are suggested, it is clear action needs to be taken. Hampton Roads can do better than this.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.

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