April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Distracted driving is a growing epidemic on American roads. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2012 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving crashes.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a person’s attention from driving, endangering the driver and their passenger as well as other drivers and bystanders. Distracted driving results in accidents because it causes the driver to:
- Swerve into other lanes
- Brake too hard
- Run off the road
- Get rear-ended by another vehicle
- Cut off other drivers
Activities that fall under distracted driving include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Of all these activities by far text messaging is the most dangerous because it requires the driver’s visual, manual, and cognitive attention at the same time. As a result it has become the number one cause of distracted driving accidents especially among teenage drivers.
What is Virginia State Law?
The U.S. Department of Transportation has been leading efforts to reduce distracted driving deaths and injuries through education and by encouraging states to adopt stricter laws and penalties when it comes to cell phone use and texting. As of July 1, 2013 texting while driving is a primary traffic offense in Virginia. The law specifically bans:
- All cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for school bus drivers (Primary law)
- All cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Secondary law)
- Texting for drivers of all ages (Primary law)
Note: Virginia defines novice drivers as drivers of all ages under the age of 18.
For more information regarding Virginia’s state laws click here: http://ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/bystate/va.html
What Can Families Do?
Parents are most effective when they lead by example. Here’s what you can do to make the road safer for everyone:
- Talk to your teen, children and grandchildren setting clear rules about safe driving and distraction behind the wheel.
- Set a good example by putting away the phone and other devices when you are the driver.
- Make calls or send texts before starting the car.
- Make sure you and your vehicle are ready to go before you start driving by entering your coordinates into the GPS, turning to your local station, or setting up your playlists/audio books/podcasts.
- Have a passenger answer the cell phone, change the CD, navigate, etc.
- Don’t distract people you know are driving by calling or texting them.
Read more Driving Tips for Teens and Parents, by visiting http://www.nationwide.com/teen-car-insurance.jsp.
What Can Business Owners Do?
Distracted driving is a real risk to a business and its people. Business drivers are often at a higher risk than the general driving population. Commercial vehicles such as vans, trucks and vehicles that pull trailers have lower visibility than cars. In addition the size of a commercial vehicle plays a role. The heavier vehicle is, the harder it is to control or slow down when trying to avoid an accident.
To safeguard your business against the risks caused by distracted driving, follow these tips:
- Develop and enforce strict driving policies regarding use of cell phones, navigation devices and other distractions and impediments while driving on company time.
- Carefully screen potential company drivers by checking their driving records.
- Offer commercial driving classes that properly train employees in safe motor vehicle operation, and may even reduce your business auto insurance premium.
In addition to protect your business with the correct Business Insurance Plan. Business automobile insurance is important regardless if employees drive their own vehicles or vehicles owned by the company for business purposes. The policies often have driver safety recommendations and requirements. You may also want to review your umbrella insurance policies to ensure it provides coverage in the event of a serious accident that could lead to costly litigation.
At Virginia Beach insurance company WBR Insurance we offer a full portfolio of policies. We pride ourselves in establishing personal relationships with our customers to assist you in protecting what matters most. To get a free quote for your Virginia Beach insurance needs, give us a call at 757-340-0028 or visit our website www.WBRInsurance.com.
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