Distracted driving has become a growing factor in traffic-related injuries and deaths. In 2017, approximately 208 traffic fatalities in Virginia were believed to be caused by distracted driving. Reported incidents may not represent the true number of deaths caused by distracted drivers who may not have left behind any evidence. of being distracted behind the wheel.
Legislative battle over distracted driving ensues
State lawmakers have attempted to crack down on the drivers handling communication devices behind the wheel with Senate Bill 1341.
The bill initially passed the House but failed to pass the Senate due to a wrongly-worded provision. According to Virginia Mercury, the words “in his hand” were inserted before “hold,” resulting in the legislation being rejected.
This was a major setback for road safety but that didn’t stop lawmakers from continuing the legislative battle to curtail distracted driving. The bill has since been revised, omitting the hands-free provision.
If passed, the law would allow drivers to hold smartphones to their ears when making phone calls but manipulating a phone by hand would be prohibited.
While some lawmakers claim that talking on a smartphone is just as distracting as eating behind the wheel, others express concern for the lack of accountability among distracted drivers.
“As soon as (an officer) signaled for you to pull over, you just press the button and now you’re talking on the phone and that’s legal under this bill,” said Del. Vivian Watts, D-Fairfax.
How prevalent are cell phone distractions in Virginia?
In 2018, a team of researchers from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) set up roadside surveys at roundabouts, intersections, and straightaways in four separate communities throughout northern Virginia.
Among drivers who used smartphones behind the wheel, researchers found that they were more likely to manipulate them by hand and less likely to talk on them.
Roughly 23 percent of the drivers observed engaged in one or more of the following distractions:
- Talking on a smartphone
- Holding or handling a smartphone
- Holding or handling other electronic devices
- Wearing headphones or ear buds
- Using a hands-free Bluetooth device
- Manipulating dashboard features or infotainment systems
- Grooming or taking care of hygiene
- Engaging in other miscellaneous distractions
Injured by a distracted driver? Legal help is here.
If a driver who was handling a smartphone behind the wheel caused your crash, there should be no dispute as to who was at fault. A highly skilled auto accident attorney at Davis, Davis, Davis & Davis, PC will fight tirelessly to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.
Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation, case evaluation.