April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and I cannot over-emphasize the importance of refraining from texting and driving. Far too many innocent lives are taken by distracted driving. In fact, over 3,000 people were killed and over 430,000 were injured in car crashed involving at least one distracted driver, according to Distraction.gov. Reports show that with each additional 1 million text messages, deaths related to distracted driving increased by more than 75 percent.
There are distracted drivers of various ages on Norfolk roads and major highways like I-264, I-64, and I-664. However, drivers under the age of 30 are particularly susceptible to becoming a distracted driving victim. For example, approximately ten percent of all drivers age 15 to 19 involved in fatal auto accidents were distracted at the time of the tragic wrecks. Drivers in their 20s constitute 27 percent of the distracted drivers involved in fatal car wrecks. Even worse, drivers in this age group made up 38 percent of distracted drivers who were found to be using their cell phones when a deadly car crash occurred.
You need to follow this very simple rule – put the phone down.
Why? Because studies have shown that reaction time is delayed for a driver talking on a cell phone as much as it is for a driver who is legally drunk. Yes, you read that correctly – when you text and drive, you are as dangerous as a drunk driver.
Virginia Law Against Texting and Driving
Not only is texting and driving dangerous, it is illegal in Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and everywhere else in the Commonwealth. The specific law is § 46.2-1078.1. This statute states the following:
It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth while using any handheld personal communications device to:
1. Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or
2. Read any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored in the device nor to any caller identification information.
This means that if you are texting and driving and cause a serious accident, you could be facing both civil and criminal penalties (civil for any injuries caused to passengers in your vehicle or the driver and passengers in the other vehicle) and criminal penalties (a monetary fine, in most cases).
Do Not Become a Victim
To understand just how dangerous texting and driving can be and the risks you are taking in engaging in this activity is best illutstrated in this powerful video: