Spend a little time on Virginia roads and you’ll see them – distracted drivers. They’re the ones chatting on the phone while they zip along the highway, they’re eating in their cars, fixing their hair, sending text messages, or reading. You might even be guilty of a few of these behaviors yourself, behaviors that can lead to serious motor vehicle accidents.
Is it really that bad? Some drivers are convinced that a quick chat on the phone or a little snack behind the wheel does no harm. However, researchers have been finding out that distracted drivers are a bigger problem than anyone realized. In fact, a study out of the University of Utah claims that in 80 percent of car accidents a driver was distracted three seconds before the crash occurred. In addition, about 65 percent of near-crashes involved a distracted driver.
According to AAA, there are 4,000 to 8,000 crashes every single day that are caused by a distracted driver. As a result, AAA estimates that 43,000 people die each year in accidents involving a distracted driver. The numbers are not as surprising when you consider how many people engage in distracting behavior while driving.
A 2003 study by the University of North Carolina found that a high percentage of drivers performed the following distracting behaviors while behind the wheel:
· 100% manipulated vehicle controls
· 97% reached and/or leaned
· 91% manipulated music or audio controls
· 86% responded to external distraction
· 77% conversed
· 71% ate or drank
Changing driver behavior
If you want to minimize your distracted driving, or help a loved one spend more time focusing on the road, consider the following tips:
- Plan ahead – know where you are going ahead of time, understand the directions, check weather and road conditions. If you are taking passengers or children with you, make sure they are properly restrained and have things to keep themselves occupied so they aren’t competing with the road for your attention.
- Concentrate – driving is not a time to catch up with friends on the phone, read text messages, scan your mail, attend to personal grooming, or eat. Focus your energy and attention on driving, and avoid getting on the road when tired or upset.
- Pull over and stop – if you need to attend to a passenger, make a call, look for a drop object, or anything else that will take your attention off of the road, pull over safely and stop. There is no distraction worth causing a serious auto accident which you risk by taking your eyes off the road for even a second.
No matter how careful you are, sometimes accidents are impossible to avoid. If you have been involved in a serious car or truck accident in Virginia, please contact the experienced attorneys the Northern Virginia law firm Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas.
DULANEY, LAUER & THOMAS, LLP
98 Alexandria Pike, Suite 11
Warrenton, VA 20186
Toll Free: 888.907.2631
209 N. West Street
Culpeper, VA 22701
Toll Free: 800.741.1012