April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month—are you watching the road?

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month—are you watching the road?

RICHMOND—It’s a scary statistic—eight out of 10 traffic crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes in Virginia are related to a distracted driving incident.

That finding by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is one reason Virginia Farm Bureau has partnered with Drive Smart Virginia to encourage drivers to focus on the road.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Virginia and a good time to remember that driving should be your priority when you’re behind the wheel.

“Even the briefest look away from the road can result in a serious crash that injures you, your passengers, a pedestrian or cyclist, or someone in another vehicle,” said Sam Rooks, vice president of underwriting and policy services for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. “When you commit to minimizing your distractions while you drive, you’re working in everyone’s best interest.”

According to Drive Smart Virginia, text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Talking on a cell phone can double the likelihood of an accident, and social media apps can be a dangerous diversion as well.

Virginia has a primary texting while driving law. Drivers who use their phone to manually enter multiple letters or text in an effort to communicate with another person are guilty of texting and driving. 

It’s also illegal to read any email or text message while driving. The fine for a first offense is $125, and a second or subsequent offense carries a $250 fine.

Here are tips for staying focused on the road:

  • Avoid eating and drinking while driving.

  • Use a GPS system that has voice navigation so you don’t have to read directions on a screen.

  • Turn off or silence your phone, or put it out of reach.

  • Maintain a safe following distance between your car and the car ahead of you. This will leave you time to react should an event occur.

  • Wear your seatbelt. Even if you do everything right, you still can be involved in a car crash if another driver is distracted.

  • Set a good example for your children. Studies show that children pick up on their parents’ driving habits, both good and bad.

For more information and safety tips, visit DriveSmartVa.org.

Media: Contact Rooks at 804-290-1372.



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