With students already in class at the University of Virginia, the campus and surrounding areas of Charlottesville have–as is common at the start of every school year–experienced a surge in the number of vehicles on the road, and of course, the number of young drivers. What’s more, there are more people on our local roads too, with many faculty members and students choosing to get to class by foot or bike.
The increase in traffic over the past month serves as a good reminder that on and around a college campus–and anywhere else for that matter, drivers need to operate their vehicles in as safe as a manner as possible. That means putting any distractions away, and focusing on the task at hand.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous things the operator of a motor vehicle can do, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reporting that in a single year, distracting driving was involved in more than 3,477 fatalities. Nearly 400,000 people were injured that same year in crashes involving distracted drivers.
Distracted driving is dangerous because it can take your eyes off of the road, your hands off of the wheel, or your mind off of thinking about driving, or some combination of all three. On and around college campuses, where there are more pedestrians and cyclists, and increased levels of automobile traffic, distracted driving can be especially risky.
Types of Distracted Driving to Watch Out For
Focusing attention on any activity other than the act of driving can be considered distracted driving. For example, doing any of the following while driving may distract a person:
- Applying makeup;
- Looking at a map or GPS;
- Checking an email;
- Sending or reading a text;
- Taking a photo;
- Answer or placing a call;
- Changing the music;
- Talking to a passenger; and
- Trying to find something in your bag.
This list is not inclusive – when a driver’s attention is diverted, the risk of a crash increases dramatically. Whether you are riding your bike (or motorcycle), driving, or walking, it is important that you move defensively. Distracted driving is a pervasive problem, and it can make it difficult to predict the actions of another driver.
Is Distracted Driving Illegal in Virginia?
Because distracted driving includes so many different things, the act of “driving while distracted” itself is not against the law. But, some especially dangerous behaviors, such as texting while driving, are prohibited in the state of Virginia. However, just because something is not illegal does not mean that it is not dangerous. Further, it does not mean that a driver cannot be held liable for another’s damages, if distracted driving leads to the injury of another party.
Distracted Walking and Biking Is Dangerous Too
While distracted driving is one of the most dangerous things a person can do–after all, a person should be in complete and total control and focus when operating something that weighs approximately 4,000 pounds and has the power to kill–it is also important to remember that when you are walking or biking, you should put your cellphone away, as well as other potential distractions. Not paying attention increases your risk of getting hit, falling, or being injured in another manner.
Filing a Claim After Being Injured in an Accident Caused by a Distracted Driver
If you are a student at the University of Virginia, we hope that your academic year is accident-free. If you are injured by a distracted driver in Charlottesville, the experienced personal injury attorneys at St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana are available to represent you. You have the right to file a claim to seek compensation for the full extent of damages you have suffered, including your pain, suffering, medical expenses, and more.
We have more than 40 years of experience, and have the legal knowledge your case deserves. To learn more about how to hold a distracted driver liable for harm suffered in a crash and to schedule a free consultation with our law firm, call us at (434) 296-7138 or contact us online today.