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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Media Contact: Sunni Brown
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6834

Thousands of Virginia Crashes, Injuries Due to Inattention
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

RICHMOND - Drivers taking their eyes off the road was the No. 1 cause of distracted driving crashes in Virginia last year, according to statistics from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles' (DMV) Highway Safety Office. In recognition of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, DMV urges motorists to stay focused on the task of driving every single time they get behind the wheel.

In 2014, more than 24,000 crashes statewide were attributed to distracted drivers. These crashes resulted in 163 deaths and 14,378 injuries.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorists are 23 times more likely to get into a crash while driving distracted. 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, NHTSA said.

"It seems like common sense to stay focused on the task at hand when you're operating a two-ton piece of machinery but, sadly, our statistics show that's not the case," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "In today's world, we are almost programmed to multi-task but, behind the wheel, you just can't risk it."

Using a cell phone while driving is a common cause of distracted driving crashes. In Virginia, texting while driving is illegal and considered a primary offense. A texting while driving conviction carries a $125 fine for the first offense and a $250 fine for second-or-subsequent offenses.

Other top causes of distracted driving crashes include rubbernecking, passengers, and adjusting a radio or CD player.

Here are a few tips to avoid distraction behind the wheel:

  • Adjust your seat, mirrors, radio and GPS before you start to drive. Ask passengers to help you once you hit the road.
  • Shut off your cell phone or place it out of reach. If you need to make a call or send a text, safely pull over and park your vehicle.
  • Don't eat, apply makeup or engage in other behaviors that take your focus off the road.
  • Secure your pets. It is safer for them and for you.
  • Make sure you get plenty of rest. If you're drowsy, you won't be able to concentrate.
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