DMV Urges Motorists to Make a Plan to Avoid Distracted Driving
Safe driving requires a driver’s full attention; planning ahead prevents distraction
RICHMOND — As April comes to an end, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) urges motorists to stay focused on the task of driving not just during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month but every single time you get behind the wheel.
“Distracted driving is a risky, avoidable behavior that endangers not only drivers, but their passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users,” said Acting DMV Commissioner Linda Ford, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Focus your full attention on one task: safe driving. Any time you divert your attention from driving, you're distracted.”
In 2021, more than 20,000 crashes statewide were attributed to distracted driving, which resulted in 117 deaths and 11,297 injuries. Drivers taking their eyes off the road was the number one cause of distracted driving crashes in Virginia last year. Cell phone use, looking at roadside incidents and navigation devices were other top causes of distracted driving crashes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving causes 80% of crashes, and one of the most distracting activities drivers engage in is talking or texting on a cell phone. NHTSA research also shows that texting is considered the most dangerous type of distracted driving because it combines visual, manual and cognitive distraction.
Effective January 1, 2021, Virginia law prohibits drivers from holding cell phones or any other wireless communication devices while driving except in a driver emergency or when the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped. Texting while driving is also illegal in Virginia and considered a primary offense. A texting while driving conviction carries a $125 fine for the first offense and a $250 fine for the second and subsequent offenses.
Studies have shown that hands-free isn’t risk free. Even if the phone isn’t in your hand, there are still dangers involved when drivers do not fully concentrate on the road. The best option is to make a plan before getting behind the wheel to avoid non-driving activities:
- Silence your cell phone or put it out of reach while driving.
- Enable or download a “Do Not Disturb” app on your phone to block incoming calls or messaging while your vehicle is in motion.
- Change your voicemail to notify a caller that you are driving and will get back to them when it is safe to do so.