The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, in the last several months studied recent statistics pertaining to traffic fatalities.
The results of this study reaffirmed that distracted driving is a common cause of deadly car accidents both in Virginia and in other parts of the country. According to the study, two years ago, almost 1 out of 10 of all fatal accidents involved at least one distracted driver. Moreover, 6% of all drivers, and 8% of all teen drivers, who were involved in a fatal accident were reportedly distracted at the time of the collision.
These numbers made for some grim figures in other respects. In 2017, 3,166 people lost their lives on the road in accidents where at least one driver was distracted. Pedestrians and bicyclists in particular felt the brunt of the distracted driving epidemic, with almost 600 of the 3,166 deaths, about 20%, being nonoccupants of a motor vehicle.
To some extent, these results merely repeat what many Virginians already know but which some motorists unfortunately continue to ignore-namely that distracted driving is a very dangerous behavior.
However, the interesting aspect of this study may force lawmakers, and society as a whole, to re-think how they handle distracted driving. To be specific, although texting and driving and cell phone usage are indeed problematic behaviors, they only accounted for 14%, or 401, of the over 2,900 fatal accidents involving a distracted driver.
The reality is that distractions can come from a number of sources, including one’s in-car radio, one’s lunch or even one’s front seat passenger. That being said, drivers in the Blacksburg area have an obligation both to avoid all distractions as much as possible and, even in the midst of an unavoidable distraction, to pay full attention to the road.