Last year there were 65,000 car accident injuries in Virginia and 753 crash related deaths. The number of licensed drivers, cars on the road, and miles driven were all up, but those numbers increased at a slower rate than the increase in auto accidents. This means that Virginia drivers were more likely to be involved in a personal injury accident last year than the year before, the first time that’s happened in several years.
What can you do to limit your chances of an accident?
1. Turn off the cell phone. We know that distracted driving is the number one cause of accidents. This not only includes texting, but also talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, even eating and adjusting the radio while driving. If you want to be safer, one of the smartest things you can do is to turn your phone off and stow it away while driving. The more you can fully concentrate on the road, the safer you will be.
2. Never Drive Under the Influence. Everyone thinks they can drive pretty well while mildly intoxicated, but science says otherwise. Under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your reaction times slow and your ability to concentrate weakens. Virginia has one of the lowest per capita fatality rates for drunk driving, but 1/3 of our crash deaths were alcohol or drug related.
3. Drive Gently. Speeding and Road Rage are also two of the biggest causes of auto and truck accidents, and highway fatalities. Nearly half of all Virginia crash fatalities last year involved speeding. “Failure to Yield” is consistently one of the top causes of accidents. To be safer, be aggressive elsewhere in your life. In your car be a wimp: back off, slow down, and try to be peaceful – for yourself and those around you. As they say in Maryland, “Please Drive Gently.”
4. Be extra careful when driving around holidays. Holidays always mean more people on the road, and more drunk drivers. Statistics always show accident spikes around Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. If you get on the road during these busy times, be sure to be extra vigilant — and re-commit yourself to #1-3 before you go!