Lawmakers, insurance professionals, and researchers met in September to increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving in Richmond, Virginia. This summit, known as the Distracted Driving Summit, was the sixth annual event held in the state. The most recent summit followed the move of Governor Ralph Northam, who declared April as Highway Safety Month in April 2018.
While it is important for drivers to become more aware of the dangers of distracted driving, some cannot help but wonder if this type of awareness will help everyone in Virginia.
“The truth is that many innocent people get charged with distracted driving, even when they were not engaging in this behavior,” says Karin Riley Porter of Price Benowitz, LLP. “It is illegal for anyone to text while driving in Virginia. On the other hand, it is not illegal to use GPS or a playlist. Drivers may be engaging in activities such as these when they are charged with distracted driving.”
That does not seem to be the only problem, either. There are many more people walking today. There has been a four percent increase of pedestrians on the roads since 2007. Those pedestrians are also starting to text more while they are walking, and that can pose just as big a danger as driving while distracted.
Pedestrians often text while using a crosswalk to cross the street. This makes them more unaware of their surroundings, so they may not see vehicles approaching or turning into their path. There have also been instances of pedestrians simply walking out into traffic without realizing there are vehicles around them.
When this happens, the chances are higher that the driver is going to be charged, regardless of the behavior that the pedestrian was engaging in. The driver then has to pay the consequences for actions they had little control over. This is particularly true when pedestrians jump out in front of vehicles without giving drivers enough time to stop.
It is true that all Virginians need to be more aware of the dangers of texting while driving. However, it is just as important to talk about the importance of paying attention to your surroundings as a pedestrian. This additional awareness would help everyone in Virginia stay safe from the dangers of being distracted, no matter where they are, or what they are doing.