How big a problem is texting while driving? It’s a huge problem, if you ask policy makers, law enforcement officers, researchers and lawmakers. Texting while driving is such a major issue these days that it was the focus of a two-day summit in Washington D.C. in September, drawing about 300 people from across the country to discuss ways to reduce distracted driving dangers on America’s roads.
The current administration is taking distracted driving very seriously. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called distracted driving a “menace to society” and an “epidemic” that “seems to be getting worse every year.”
Indeed, the distracted driving statistics are chilling. According to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving led to 5,800 deaths and 515,000 injuries last year alone.
Virginia recently got behind the push to ban texting while driving. Just this year the Virginia General Assembly passed a law making it illegal for drivers to type, read, send or receive text messages or email while driving. If you are cited for texting or emailing while driving, you could receive a $20 fine for your first offense and $50 for your second offense. However, you can only be cited if you are pulled over for another violation, because Virginia’s texting law is subject only to secondary enforcement.
Research into distracted driving has revealed some shocking information, showing how easy it is for drivers to cause an accident when their attention is not on the road.
- A driver on a cell phone (even hands-free) has the same reaction time as a drunk driver (University of Utah study)
- Truck drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to cause an accident than non-texting drivers (Virginia Tech study)
- Brain activity in drivers who use a cell phone behind the wheel is reduced by about 37 percent (Carnegie Mellon study)
Right now distracted driving laws are being passed on a state-by-state level, however the majority of states do not yet have any laws against cell phone use or texting while driving. AAA Mid-Atlantic recently started a campaign to push for a nationwide ban on cell phone use by drivers. Given all of the attention that this issue is receiving, there will likely be more laws, restrictions and penalties for driving while distracted.
Were you seriously injured in an auto accident because of another driver’s negligence? If you are hurt and aren’t sure where to turn, the experienced, non-nonsense lawyers at Tavss Fletcher can help you secure justice. Please contact our Norfolk office today, and speak with a skilled traffic crash attorney for no cost or obligation.
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