Distracted driving epidemic continues despite texting law

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Although Virginia banned texting and driving three years ago, distracted driving is still a leading cause of accidents.

In 2013 Virginia passed a law banning texting and driving in an effort to combat the growing menace of distracted driving. While since that time there have been some declines in distracted driving car accidents, according to the Roanoke Times, fatalities caused by distracted driving crashes have remained steady. In fact, as smartphones and in-car technology become more complex, the epidemic of distracted driving seems set to continue. According to one Virginia study, the problem is so bad that drivers are now, on average, distracted for about half the time they are behind the wheel.

Texting and driving ban

The 2013 law prohibits drivers from using a handheld device, such as a smartphone, while they are driving. Since then, however, distracted driving has continued to be one of the leading causes of accidents in Virginia, with 26,336 such accidents in 2015 alone, which is more than either speeding or drunk driving. The one small bit of good news from such figures is that while distracted driving accidents are still extremely high, they have declined slightly since the 2013 law was passed. In 2012, for example, distracted driving accidents were over 28,000.

However, while overall distracted driving accidents have seen a decline, the same cannot be said for fatalities caused by those accidents. In 2010, for example, distracted driving fatalities stood at 120 before climbing to 165 in 2014. In 2015 there was a slight decrease in fatalities, with 156 deaths in Virginia that year attributed to distracted driving.

Distracted half the time

The prevalence of distracted driving was highlighted by a recent Virginia Tech study that found that drivers were distracted about 50 percent of the time they were behind the wheel. According to CityLab, the extensive study, which involved 3,500 participants, in-vehicle cameras, and large sets of data, found that drivers’ attention was on something other than the road at least half the time.

While smartphones, the study notes, play a big role in the current distracted driving problem, there are other dangerous causes of distraction. The study noted that talking to passengers, reaching for items in the car, changing the radio, eating, and applying makeup are all dangerous and distracting behaviors. Additionally, the study concluded that of all the accidents the researchers looked at, distraction played a role in at least 70 percent of them.

Injured in an accident?

Distracted driving is a dangerous menace on Virginia’s roads and highways. For those who have been hurt in an accident that may have been caused by a distracted driver, it is important to know that help is available. A personal injury attorney can assist accident victims in understanding what options they may have, including by helping them file claims and pursue the compensation they may be entitled to.