April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia and Trusted Choice® want to educate Virginia drivers on the importance of staying alert behind the wheel.
This comes off the back of the Virginia General Assembly ratifying Wednesday an amendment proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam to the recently-passed SB 1768 last week that would prohibit drivers across the commonwealth from holding a cell phone or other communications device while on Virginia motorways.
"The time has come for the Commonwealth to implement an effective and fair law to combat distracted driving," Gov. Northam said in a statement. "Too many families have lost loved ones as a result of a driver paying more attention to their phone than to their surroundings."
In Virginia, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Highway Safety Office reported 208 fatalities and 14,656 injuries as a result of distracted driving in 2017. While the number of injuries dropped compared to 2016, the number of fatalities increased by more than 18 percent from the previous year.
Across the country, at least nine fatalities and 100 injuries are reported each day as a result of distracted driving, according to the National Safety Council.
"Distracted driving accidents are completely preventable, which makes these statistics particularly alarming," IIAV President and CEO Robert N. Bradshaw Jr. said. "We want to help Virginians understand that the decisions they make on the road impact both their safety and the safety of others. The last thing anyone wants to hear is that a loved one was injured or worse because of negligent, preventable behavior."
According to the report from the DMV and Virginia Highway Safety Office, the top three categories of distracted driving were defined as; having eyes off the road; looking at a roadside incident; and using a cell phone or texting.
"Distracted driving comes in many forms," Bradshaw added. "While we often think of texting and driving, distracted behavior extends beyond that. It's important for drivers everywhere to understand the impact that a quick look at a cell phone or a glance away from the road can have."
In addition to safe driving practices, IIAV - a member of the DRIVE SMART Virginia Coalition for Safe Driving - also encourages Virginians to evaluate their current car insurance policies during this year's Distracted Driving Awareness Month to make sure they're covered in case of an accident.
"If you're a victim of a distracted driving incident, you're going to want to be covered for any damage to your vehicle or to your person," Bradshaw said. "If you're unsure of whether or not you have adequate coverage, give your agent a call. That's what they're there for."
This item was posted by a community contributor.