Causes of Car Accidents in Virginia
According to the United States Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for individuals under the age of 35. In 2012, more than 33,500 people were killed in traffic collisions in the United States. The DOT estimates that the total economic toll of these crashes is in excess of $230 billion each year. The astounding fact is that the vast majority of these incidents were in some way preventable. Reckless and careless driving behaviors (common with teen drivers) are the main cause for collisions:
- Drunk or drugged drivers
- Distracted driving
- Driving drowsy
- Failure to adhere to traffic control devices and signs (e.g., failure to yield)
- Following too closely
- Improper signaling and passing
- Vehicle malfunction
- Reckless driving
- Poor roadway conditions and maintenance
While inclement weather and unforeseen health conditions may play an unavoidable role in a fraction of traffic accidents, the majority of crashes could be avoided with proper attention, adherence to traffic laws, and proper roadway and vehicle maintenance.
Drunk and Drugged Driving in Virginia
The Commonwealth harshly penalizes those found driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Understanding the threat that these impaired drivers pose to others on the roadway has led the state to treat driving under the influence (DUI) as a criminal offense. If convicted, even a first-time offender may find himself or herself with a criminal record, license suspension, fines, incarceration, and other penalties. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reports that in 2012 nearly 9,000 alcohol-related traffic crashes occurred in the state, causing injury to more than 5,800 people and killing almost 230. Virginians between the ages of 21 and 35 were most likely to drive while impaired, and males are more than twice as likely as females to drive while under the influence. The risk that an impaired driver takes when getting behind the wheel of a car not only affects him or her, personally, but every other driver, passenger, pedestrian, cyclist, and other person he or she passes along the roadway. This kind of reckless behavior leaves an impaired driver responsible for the damages caused by his or her actions. Our Virginia auto accident lawyers believe that this responsibility extends beyond the criminal court system and into the world of civil justice, where such individuals can be held to answer for the harms and suffering they have wrought, and where the message will be clear that driving under the influence is not and will not be tolerated.
The posted speed limit for a given stretch of roadway is determined based on a number of factors, including sight distance, roadway curvature, area zoning, roadway width, the number of traffic lanes, and more. This designated speed is given for ideal roadway conditions. When anything less than ideal conditions are present, the set speed and anything above it can become quite dangerous. In Virginia, a speeding ticket can result in fines, demerit points against the driver’s record, and other penalties. If the speed is considered especially excessive, a driver may be criminally charged with reckless driving. Upon conviction, this may result in not only fines and demerit points, but incarceration for up to 12 months, a license suspension of up to 6 months, and a criminal record. The criteria necessary for speeding to result in a reckless driving charge are given:
- Driving in excess of 80 miles per hour, regardless of the posted speed limit
- Driving at or in excess of 20 miles per hour above the posted speed limit
- Driving at a speed considered unreasonable “under the circumstances and traffic conditions at the time”, regardless of the posted speed limit
- Driving at a speed considered a danger the life, limb, and property of others
Speed-related crashes in Virginia in 2012 resulted in more than 14,000 injuries and over 300 deaths. Surprisingly, the vast majority of these crashes occurred under clear weather conditions, and well over half occurred during daylight hours. Speeding, even just a few miles over the speed limit, can wreak havoc on the life of the driver, his or her passengers, and others on the roadway. Drivers who choose to speed assume a great deal of liability for any damages or injuries caused by their actions. Your Virginia auto accident attorney can explain how the other drivers’ speeding may play a role in
Deadly Facts on Distracted Drivers
Drive Smart Virginia (DSV) is a not-for-profit organization that strives to increase awareness and provoke behavioral changes in order to increase the state’s roadway safety. The goal of DSV is to reduce the frequency of traffic accidents which result in injury and death. The organization reports that approximately 80 percent of car crashes in Virginia are related to some form of distracted driving. The statistics indicate that a driver talking on his or her phone is 40 percent less focused on the roadway, and when using the phone to text, peruse social media, or search the internet, that driver is 23 times more likely to crash than a driver with proper focus on the roadway. As a Virginia auto accident lawyer can tell you, cell phone usage is not the only distraction that increases the risk of a traffic collision. Anyone, anything, or any activity which diverts the driver’s attention from the road and surrounding environment is a dangerous distraction. Teen drivers are among one of several groups of drivers who fall prey to this problem. Listed here are a few common driving distractions:
- Viewing a map
- Adjusting temperature or radio controls
- Operating a navigation system/GPS
- Eating or drinking
- Tending to an infant or child
- Talking/interacting with passengers
More than 3,000 people were killed in automobile crashes in 2011 as a result of distracted drivers. Nearly 400,000 more were injured in such crashes. Distracted drivers are a danger on the roadway and are responsible for a large percentage of the nation’s traffic crashes.
A basic disregard for Virginia traffic laws impacts a driver’s ability to properly react when faced with an unexpected situation on the roadway. While some minor violations may go unnoticed, others can cause serious collisions resulting in harm or death to the driver and others. In an attempt to punish and deter such practices, law enforcement will issue citations for such infractions leading to fines, demerit points, and other penalties.