Distracted Driving Statistics
Distracted driving claims the lives of thousands of individuals each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 9 individuals are killed each day in crashes that involve a distracted driver. In Virginia alone, there are more than 15,000 injuries annually from distracted driving-related crashes, causing hundreds of deaths each year.
Teenagers (drivers ages 15 to 19) are the group most likely to drive while distracted. Teen drivers are young and inexperienced, and they tend to make poorer decisions on the road. 40% of all teens who drive admit to having sent a text while behind the wheel during the past 30 days and approximately 60% of all auto accidents among teens result from some type of driver distraction.
Texting and other smartphone activity while driving is just one of several distractions that may affect motorists. Some other common distractions include:
- Tuning the car radio;
- Eating and drinking;
- Reaching for objects;
- Staring at billboards;
- Taking photos and videos;
- Talking to or jostling with passengers;
- Talking on your phone.
Driver distractions fall into one or more of the following general categories:
Anything that distracts drivers from their primary job of safely operating a vehicle can be hazardous and cause an accident under the wrong set of circumstances. What makes texting and similar activities while driving so dangerous is that this behavior can fit into three or four of the above categories, taking the driver’s entire focus off of the road. The CDC says that taking just five seconds to send a text while driving 55 mph is like driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded.
Virginia Distracted Driving Laws
Virginia has some very strict prohibitions on distracted driving. It is illegal to manually enter letters or text on any handheld personal communications device while driving in the Commonwealth. It is also illegal to read any electronic message that is sent to or stored in the device.
This is a primary offense in Virginia, meaning an officer does not have to observe any other traffic violation to pull over a motorist for distracted driving. Fines start at $125 for a first offense, and $250 for second and subsequent offenses. Motorists also receive demerit points on their driver’s license, which can eventually result in the loss of driving privileges as well as higher insurance rates.
Unfortunately, the penalties a motorist receives for distracted driving do nothing to help those who are injured when they cause an accident. To obtain compensation for their losses, an injured party must file a civil claim, usually through the responsible party’s insurer. If they are unable to obtain a settlement from the insurance company, the injured party has two years from the date of the accident (in most cases) to file a personal injury lawsuit under Virginia law.
Personal injury claims in Virginia are more complicated and difficult to pursue than in most other states because of the Commonwealth’s “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying accident. Even in a distracted driving accident case, there is no guarantee that the other party will be found to be 100% at fault. This is why we recommend getting an attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your right to recover compensation can be fully protected.
Contact Our Skilled and Compassionate Virginia Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys
Being injured in a distracted driving accident can turn your whole world upside down. At Schilling & Esposito, we are here to provide strong legal guidance and moral support during this difficult time. We deal directly with the other side and handle all of the complicated legal tasks, so you can focus on your recovery. Throughout the process, we provide frequent updates on the progress of your case, and we are always available to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have.
Call our office today at 804-261-1001 or message us online to schedule your free consultation. You may also stop by our office in person at your convenience, or we will come to you.
We accept all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, so you only pay attorney fees if we recover compensation on your behalf