Virginia Highway Safety Office News ReleasesFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Media Contact: Sunni Brown
Department of Motor Vehicles
Thousands of Virginia's Crashes, Injuries Due to Inattention
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
RICHMOND - Drivers who take their attention away from the road, even for just a moment, are at risk of dying, and killing innocent motorists and bystanders. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Department of Motor Vehicles' Virginia Highway Safety Office encourages everyone on the road to stay completely focused on the complex task of driving.
"It's sad that motorists are willing to risk their own death, and risk killing or injuring others, over a text," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "If you're texting, you're not driving." In Virginia, texting while driving is a primary offense and it is illegal for all drivers, no matter their age. A texting while driving conviction carries a $125 fine for the first offense and $250 for the second or subsequent offenses. Also, any person convicted of reckless driving will pay a $250 mandatory fine if the person was texting at the time of a reckless driving offense.
Along with texting, any activity that takes the driver's attention away from the primary task of driving are distractions including eating, changing the radio station, talking with passengers and programming a navigation system, such as a GPS. In 2013 in Virginia, there were 26,706 crashes, 89 fatalities and 6,225 injuries attributed to driver distractions.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers are 23 times more likely to get into a crash while driving distracted. In addition, younger drivers have the greatest proportion of distracted driving crashes. Of this group, 11 percent of all drivers who die in crashes were reportedly distracted.
"Warm weather always brings an increase in traffic and pedestrians, making now the perfect time to remind motorists to have only one focus, and that's driving," Holcomb said. "Distractions not only place the driver and their family in danger, but this risky behavior also jeopardizes everyone else on the road."
In 2013 in Virginia:
- Most distracted driving crashes involved drivers 21 to 35 years old (39 percent)
- Most distracted driver crashes occurred on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays (46 percent), between noon and 6 p.m. (42 percent)
- The top five driver distractions were, in order:
- drivers not having their eyes on the road
- cell phone use
- looking at a roadside incident
- passenger distractions
- radio or CD use