80 percent of crashes caused by distracted driving - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

80 percent of crashes caused by distracted driving

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By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - State agencies are coming together today to remind everyone about the dangers of distracted driving.

A news conference took place today at the Virginia State Police Academy in Chesterfield County.

Distracted driving is a top danger behind the wheel. In fact, about eight out of 10 crashes involve some sort of driver inattention within three seconds of that crash.

We've all seen it and likely even done it, driving distracted includes anything from talking on the phone, to messing with your music, to attending to your children or even pets.  All of these actions can lead to serious consequences.

Martha Meade with AAA Mid-Atlantic says, "people are dying because of a simple missed phone call, a dropped toy or some other event that is completely not important."

We've seen these types of accidents in our own headlines.

Back in January for instance this was the scene after a 20-year-old woman hit a fire truck on Chippenham Parkway. 

Police say it's because she was distracted on a cell phone.

Or how about this crash in upstate New York when a tow truck driver who was talking and texting wound up in a family's pool.

These crashes are just a few examples to illustrate some scary statistics.

Janet Brooking with DriveSmart Virginia, "we know that nearly 25 percent of all crashes in 2009 can be attributed to some sort of driver distraction here in Virginia."

One of the problems though is this is really up to drivers. Some laws, like making texting illegal can help, but it likely will never be illegal to eat in your car or hand your child a toy.

Meade says, "that's the challenge, we can pass all the laws in the world, but we can't legislate intelligence behind the wheel."

Captain Steven Chumley with Virginia State Police says, "it is a behavior change and it's a shift that needs to take place and in order for people to realize the dangers associated with it."

Chumley also said that too often it takes someone getting in an accident before people will actually change their behavior.  Sometimes though at that point, it's too late.

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