New data out of Virginia shows distracted driving in the Commonwealth was the major cause of 26,123 car accidents in the state in 2017. This means approximately 20% of all crashes in the state are caused by a driver looking at a smartphone or being distracted by something else. This statistic is startling, and provides a reminder at the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month (promoted by the National Safety Council) about just what a challenge there is in this state to reduce distracted driving.
According to the 2017 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts reported by the DMV, there were 127,375 car accidents in the state. Distracted driving was a more common cause of accidents than speed, which was a factor in 23,948 wrecks. The number of distracted driving accidents is a major worry for the state, but the number was 2.5% lower than the year before. But a new study by AAA has shown that distracted driving is a bigger concern today than driving drunk. In 2017, far more distracted drivers than drunk drivers caused accidents. There were 7285 accidents in Virginia caused by drunk drivers last year.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also warns that distracted driving has hit the top of the list of dangers on Virginia roads, and roads across the country. In its study, 88% of drivers said that distracted driving is getting worse. This is a 30% increase in five years.
According to state Senator Scott Surovell in Fairfax County, injuries and deaths from distracted drivers on cell phones is happening every day in the state. He recently sponsored a bill that would make it a traffic offense to use a cell phone when it takes your attention off the road. Texting and driving is already illegal in the state.
Our Virginia wrongful death and personal injury attorneys implore drivers in the Commonwealth to pay attention to their driving at all times. Looking at a cell phone for even a second at highway speed can cause a very serious accident. It is estimated that taking your eyes off the road for five seconds at 55 MPH is like driving with your eyes closed for the length of a football field.
There is new technology that could theoretically reduce the number of distracted driving accidents, but even hands free cell phones can still be a distraction for many drivers. The best way to ensure you are not distracted behind the wheel is to put the cell phone in the glove compartment or in another location you cannot easily reach while driving.