Figures released as lawmakers decline to toughen state's distracted driving laws

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) says there were over 1,000 tractor trailer accidents on the state's main highways in just the first six months of 2013, according to WHSV News. Authorities say the biggest factor in most truck accidents is distracted driving, either by the truck driver or by another motorist on the road. Despite the statistics, however, a bill that would have toughened the state's distracted driving laws recently failed to pass.

Interstates 95 and 81 highlighted

According to VDOT, the two highways that saw the highest number of truck accidents were Interstates 95 and 81. I-95 saw 321 truck accidents between January and June of last year. I-81, which has the most tractor trailer traffic overall, came in second with 237 crashes. I-66 was a distant third with 41 crashes, while I-77 and I-85 saw 28 and 25 truck accidents respectively.

Police say that the number one cause of truck accidents is not bad weather but distracted and inattentive drivers. They say that such driver inattention can be caused, for example, by fatigue, using a cellphone, or adjusting the radio. The statistics released by VDOT do not indicate which accidents were caused by truck driver inattention versus those caused by the inattention of other motorists involved in a collision with a truck.

Distracted driving bill fails

The truck accident figures were released just as state lawmakers declined to pass a bill that would have expanded Virginia's distracted driving laws, according to the Virginian-Pilot. The bill would have made all hand-held cellphone use behind the wheel illegal, including when stopped at a red light. The House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee voted down the proposal.

Police had wanted the bill passed because they argued that the current law is too difficult to enforce. By banning all cellphone use while driving, police argued it would have been easier to ensure that distracted drivers were being kept off the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 3,300 people are killed and 421,000 people are injured each year in crashes caused by distracted driving.

Getting help

When an accident happens, especially if it involves a truck or other large vehicle, the injuries suffered can be severe. Victims will usually require medical treatment that can prove costly, not to mention the fact that in some cases time will have to be taken off work during the recovery process. These financial pressures, in addition to the physical and emotional pain, can make life after an accident especially difficult.

As such, victims of a motor vehicle accident should get in touch with a personal injury attorney immediately. A qualified attorney can help clarify what options may be available, including the possibility of pursuing additional compensation when an accident may have been caused by another driver's negligence or recklessness.