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Understanding the dangers of distracted driving

Distracted driving is a problem we all hear a lot about and includes any behavior or activities conducted while driving that can divert the driver's attention from the roadway. Distracted driving includes texting while driving; operating a cell phone or smart phone while driving; using a navigation system while driving; operating a radio, CD player or other similar device while driving; watching a video while driving; reading or referencing maps while driving; eating and drinking while driving; grooming while driving; and talking to passengers while driving.

Texting while driving is considered particularly dangerous because it includes all three forms of distraction, which are cognitive, visual and manual, at one time. A driver's eyes, on average, are removed from the roadway for 5 seconds while texting which, while traveling at 55 miles per hour, is traveling the length of a football field. Virginia places a ban on all texting while driving. During 2014, over 3,000 victims were killed and 431,000 were injured in car accidents involving distracted drivers. Distracted driving is dangerous and places those sharing the roadways, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and others, at risk.

Victims of distracted driving-related car accidents may suffer a litany of damages including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering damages. Surviving family members who have lost a loved one in a distracted driving-related car accident may find themselves unexpectedly facing the loss of a loved one and the need to pay for funeral and medical expenses, as well as facing other losses associated with the unexpected loss of a loved one.

Fortunately, legal protections are in place to hold a distracted driver responsible for the harm they have caused and may allow victims and their family members to recover compensation for the physical, financial and emotional damages commonly associated with car accidents. It is important that victims and their families are familiar with the resources available to help and protect them when harmed.

Source: Distraction.gov, "Facts & Statistics," Accessed Nov. 22, 2016

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