How many text messages do you send each day? You might even send while multi-tasking, for instance you may ask when family members will be home while cooking dinner. You could even be so pressed for time that you look down at the stop light to read a text or compose text messages while driving to pick up kids at their activities.
Most people know there is a risk associated with texting and driving, but they tend to think they can drive safely enough to counteract it. It might come as a surprise then to learn that texting behind the wheel is more dangerous than most assume.
Distracted driving has become a leading cause of crashes
Distraction-related crashes have existed since long before the rise of mobile phone technology. People can become distracted talking or arguing with a passenger or child in the backseat, changing the radio station or something happening outside the vehicle. Taking your eyes or mental focus off the road or your hands off the wheel can drastically affect your response time and therefore increase the likelihood of a crash.
With text messages, email and social media alerts pinging, it can be hard to focus only on driving. Unfortunately, driver distraction causes about nine deaths every day on roadways across the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention add that more than a thousand other people get hurt in crashes caused by distracted drivers. Even more crashes happen that don't involve injury, just property damage.
The takeaway: far more distracted driving crashes happen than you might imagine. Every time you drive while distracted, you run the risk of becoming one of them.
People hurt by distracted drivers have rights
Negligent and dangerous driving behavior endangers other people as well as yourself. That is why traffic laws exist to minimize the risk one driver creates for other people. Avoiding your own distraction at the wheel is an important step toward keeping yourself safe, but it can't protect you from other people who choose distraction over safety.
Holding distracted drivers accountable can lead to change and prevent others from suffering harm. And Virginia law provides civil remedies (monetary compensation) for those who have been seriously injured or who have lost a loved one because of the negligent actions of other people.