The state of Virginia held Distracted Driving Awareness Month this past April. It was a deadly year in 2017 on Virginia roads as 842 people were killed in accidents. This total is an 11 percent increase from 2016. A major factor contributing to the increase in deaths was distracted driving.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, data shows that 208 of those deaths were related to distracted driving accidents. Advocates for traffic safety believe that this number is too low because crashes involving distracted driving are not properly reported.
Many experts in the automotive and safety industries are worried that distracted driving is becoming an epidemic, not only in Virginia but also across the country. This worry is backed up by statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The agency estimates that at any given time during daylight hours there are some 660,000 drivers operating their vehicles while using a mobile device or some other type of electronic. To make matters worse, surveys conducted by various groups and agencies have found that drivers know distracted driving is dangerous but still admit to doing it.
“Distracted driving can bring fines, points on your license, and even license suspension,” Steve Duckett, an Alexandria criminal defense attorney, said. “Know the laws of Virginia before you get behind the wheel so you can avoid these charges.”
Earlier this year the Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, signed a proclamation that declared April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The proclamation was in response to a request by the advocacy group known as DRIVE SMART Virginia, which has been trying to tackle distracted driving for more than a decade.
Janet Brooking, the Executive Director for DRIVE SMART Virginia, released the following statement:
“With distraction-related traffic fatalities on the rise again this year, we’re asking companies, organizations, and individuals throughout Virginia to help spread the message that distracted driving is an epidemic that is killing nine and injuring more than 1,000 people each day in the United States.”
Brooking also mentioned companies, parents, and lawmakers as important entities in the fight against distracted driving. She said that companies need to enforce stronger policies for employees, parents need to set better examples, and distracted driving laws need to be made stronger by lawmakers.