Provided by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration
Why is distracted driving so deadly? While the driver is distracted, he or she may not be able to react to a changing environment. The driver loses precious seconds before recognizing the situation and must make an emergency maneuver.
Types of Distracted Driving
The three basic types of distracted driving are manual, visual and cognitive, and all three increase crash risk. During visual distraction, drivers' eyes are off the road, such as looking at a billboard or the dashboard. A driver's hand is off the wheel during manual distraction, such as eating or handling an object.
Cognitive distraction poses the highest risk because the driver's mind is off driving. When a driver's brain is overloaded by two cognitive tasks, such as driving and talking on the phone, drivers make the phone conversation the main task and driving becomes the secondary task, without recognizing it. Driving is severely impaired as a secondary task, and the impairment can last a long time.
Cell Phone Use
Effective January 1, 2021 Virginia law prohibits drivers from holding cell phones or any other wireless communication devices while driving except in a driver emergency or the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped.
Texting While Driving
While the top actions for distracted driving crashes in Virginia involve rubbernecking, talking with passengers and adjusting the radio, texting while driving continues to be one of the leading causative factors, and is one of the most visible unsafe driving behaviors. Texting while driving is illegal and a primary offense in Virginia. A texting while driving conviction carries a $125 fine for the first offense and a $250 fine for second or subsequent offenses.
Young Drivers Impacted
Young distracted drivers are even more susceptible. Inexperience in handling or controlling a vehicle during an emergency situation combined with distracted driving puts them at greater risk of a crash. More young people are involved in distracted driving crashes than any other age group.
The main types of collisions were rear end crashes and running off the road into a fixed object. The top driver action was “eyes not on the road.”
Distracted Driving Resources
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- DRIVE SMART Virginia
- National Safety Council
- It Can Wait