Distracted driving increases crashes

Published 3:48 pm Saturday, April 30, 2022

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At any given moment, 660,000 drivers are using a cell phone while operating a vehicle.

Every year, according to the National Safety Council (NSC) about 400 fatal crashes are caused by texting and driving.

The month of April has been designated as Distracted Driver Month in an effort to bring awareness to the dangers of texting and driving.

According to The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) it takes about five seconds to read a text.

During that time, you drive about the length of a football field at around 55mph, which is 360 feet.

“The issue is not just the momentary lapse in attention, but also the additional time it takes for your eyes to reorient to the road and the other cars around you.” said USDOT officials in a release.

Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes in the U.S. Each day, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in distracted driving crashes.

In Virginia, distracted driving contributed to 20,918 collisions and 117 fatal crashes throughout 2021, according to the Virginia Traffic Records Electronic Data System.

Distracted driving of any kind increases crash risks for drivers, passengers and fellow motorists, said David Tenembaum, actuarial manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co.

“Distracted driving is a tremendous problem,” he said. “We’re asking all drivers to make a distraction-free driving commitment during April and to adopt that practice moving forward.”

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates total motor-vehicle deaths for 2021 was 46,020, up 9% from 42,339 in 2020 and up 18% from 39,107 in 2019.

The trend upward caused a new law to go into effect in 2021 in Virginia that prohibits texting and talking on the phone while driving.

Drivers may still use a hands-free technology when talking on the phone but that isn’t distraction-proof either.

“While there are many ways a driver can be distracted, handheld phone use is the most egregious, as it involves all three kinds of distraction—manual, visual and cognitive,” Tenembaum added. “For this reason, we encourage all drivers to put the phone down and concentrate on the important task of driving.”