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Springfield Virginia Motor Vehicle Accidents Blog

Be aware: Virginia teens may still text and drive

Distracted driving among teens remains a huge problem in the U.S. even though texting and driving is prohibited in nearly every state. The CDC believes that up to nine people are killed every day on the nation's roadways because of distracted driving. Out of a study group of more than 101,000 teens, 38 percent admitted to texting and driving, and nearly 56 percent of older teens acknowledged they engage in this dangerous habit.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety confirms that 47 states have put laws into effect that either ban or limit texting and driving. In addition, new drivers in 38 states are forbidden from using a cell phone for any activity while operating a motor vehicle.

Texting and driving: It's not safe while waiting at a red light

Some people believe it's safe to text behind the wheel when they're stopped at a traffic light. People have become more connected through texts, emails and phone calls, so it's no wonder that they want to check their messages when they aren't moving.

Texting and driving is illegal, though, no matter where you are in your vehicle. Even texting at a red light could result in a ticket and fines in Virginia. It could also cause a crash.

Automated emergency brakes more effective than originally thought

Since its inception, automatic emergency braking was believed to be a major breakthrough in vehicle safety. Now, a study of certain vehicles and their use of emergency braking has shown that automatic brakes may be even more helpful in avoiding accidents than experts first imagined. If true, this could be great news for all Virginia drivers.

The study, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, reviewed data collected from 2013-2015 model vehicles. All of the vehicles were built by General Motors, including Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet offerings. The study took data provided by GM identifying what vehicles had emergency breaking and then compared that to police accident reports to determine how often vehicles with automatic emergency braking failed to prevent motor vehicle accidents.

Truck accident fatalities rise to a worrying 29-year high

Tractor-trailer accident fatalities around the country reached a 29-year high in 2017 according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and some truck drivers and trucking industry trade groups say that federal rules designed to prevent fatigue could be partly responsible. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's hours of service regulations require truck drivers to take a 30-minute break after spending eight hours behind the wheel, which critics of the rules say encourages them to exceed posted speed limits.

These arguments are not borne out by NHTSA accident data. While the 4,761 road users killed in 2017 in accidents involving semi-tractor trailers represents a 9 percent increase over the 2016 death toll, the number of fatal truck crashes caused by excessive speed is actually declining. Road safety advocates are working hard to get to the bottom of the problem because about three in four of those killed in commercial vehicle crashes are occupants of other vehicles.

Brake inspections sideline nearly 5,000 commercial trucks

Virginia motorists may be concerned to learn that a significant percentage of commercial trucks operating in the state could have serious brake issues. As a result, they could present a danger to others on the road.

In September, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducted its Brake Safety Week at various locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. During the event, vehicle inspectors examined the brake systems of 35,080 commercial trucks and pulled 4,955 of them from service due to brake violations. That number represents 14.1 percent of all inspected vehicles.

Bright sunlight can pose a risk of auto crashes

People in Virginia may find it challenging to drive in bright sunlight, and some may operate their cars negligently despite poor visibility, leading to serious accidents and injuries. The glare of oncoming sun can be linked to traffic problems in the morning and the afternoon, but there are actions that people can take to protect themselves and others on the road from dangerous situations.

Good sunglasses can be critical to safely driving in strong sun glare. They can reduce UV rays to a driver's eyes as well as dull excessive glare. In addition, the car sun visors are there for a reason. It can be important to position them as best as possible to block incoming sunlight through the front windshield or side windows. Because they are built-in equipment, they should not block a driver's vision of the road ahead. Window tinting can also mitigate the effects of bright sunlight, but it's important to verify state laws before moving forward with tint film. Some states prohibit vehicle windows that are overly dark or blackened.

A push to end distracted driving

In Virginia and other states throughout the country, the number of traffic fatalities has gone up in recent years. However, legislation passed in Georgia and other states shows that governments are taking the problem seriously. Laws passed in Georgia and Rhode Island prohibit drivers from using their phones while a car is in motion. According to TrueMotion, distracted driving was down in both of those states after hands-free laws were passed.

In Georgia, there was a 22 percent reduction in the amount of texting and app use among drivers in the first month after that state's law passed. According to the governor of Georgia, reducing traffic fatalities by 20 percent could save 260 people each year. As of September 2018, there was a 14 percent drop in traffic fatalities in Georgia. The results from Georgia's efforts have increased the amount of interest in other states for similar laws.

Could race affect your chances of dying in a motorcycle crash?

In our society, racial minorities face discrimination on the job, on the street and elsewhere in their lives. But one startling statistic from a Johns Hopkins University study shows another shocking disparity: Black motorcyclists have a higher chance of dying in a crash than their white counterparts.

Legal cannabis linked to increase in car crashes

As people in Virginia and across the country debate the legalization of recreational marijuana, some have wondered if motor vehicle laws are keeping up with the times. Cannabis legalization has led to more people driving under the influence. This issue is especially complicated since there is little clear guidance about how much cannabis is too much to allow a person to drive safely. One study indicates that there's good reason for concern about how roadway safety could be affected by marijuana legalization.

The National Transportation Safety Authority released a report saying that more drivers across the country are impaired by drugs. It cited a Texas motor vehicle crash in 2017 that killed 12 people, saying that a man who hit the bus was under the influence of sedatives and marijuana. Given the opiate crisis and the rise in prescription drug abuse, many drug-related crashes aren't caused by cannabis. Still, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety noted that states with legalized marijuana have more car crashes overall.

Groups call for mandatory crash avoidance tech on large trucks

Virginia residents who are concerned about truck safety may wonder if crash avoidance systems could help in any way. While such systems can certainly reduce the number of crashes, they are currently not mandated for commercial trucks. A report given by The Kansas City Star, the findings of which have received the attention of several members of Congress, says that they should be.

The Star brought up federal data showing that there were 4,3000 people killed in large truck accidents: a 28 percent increase from 2009. It then called out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to propose any regulations that take advantage of crash avoidance technology.

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