It’s simply common sense; anybody who gets behind the wheel must keep their eyes on the road. Safe driving requires each motorist’s full attention and focus. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, the Norfolk accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, P.C. are available for an immediate case review. Car accidents from distracted drivers cause serious injuries and death every day across the state of Virginia.

As we noted in a previous post, the Virginia Pilot noted last year saw about 28,000 distracted driver crashes, culminating in 114 fatalities. For that reason, texting while driving is, of course, now illegal in the Commonwealth. But some opinion leaders feel that that measure doesn’t go far enough.

The Pilot’s editorial board is proposing that the Virginia General Assembly ban all use of wireless devices–both handheld and hands free–while driving. The editorial claims that hands-free devices don’t eliminate accident risks because motorists can get easily wrapped up in their conversations and forget what they’re doing.

In support of its recommendation, the Pilot calls attention to a recent New York Times story about a proposed federal study of 100,000 drivers to assess the risks of mobile cell phone use. For various inside-the-beltway reasons, the 2003 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) never went forward. However, through a Freedom of Information request, the Times obtained a mountain of the agency’s preliminary research. According to the NHTSA documents, multitasking driver distraction causes about 25 percent of all traffic crashes, and that that wireless use has contributed to an increasing number of automobile accidents, injuries and fatalities.

So-called cognitive distraction (“lost in conversation”) is where the average handheld user can get into trouble, but according to the NHTSA documentation, there are three additional categories that can lead to auto accidents (and these distractions most often occur in some combination):

  • visual (looking away from the road to dial a number)
  • biomechanical (manipulating a device)
  • auditory (startled by ringing phone)

According to these materials which were weren’t officially disclosed until now, “limiting use to hands-free phones while driving will not solve the problem.  In either operational mode, we have found that the cognitive distraction is significant enough to degrade the driver’s performance. We therefore recommend that drivers not use wireless communication devices, including text messaging systems, when driving, except in an emergency.”

The research also suggests that laws banning only handheld use in the car can create a misperception that hands-free operation is safe.

It remains to be seen if any state, Virginia or otherwise, will seek to enact a bill that would prohibit hands-free cell phone use. It is likely that more research will be necessary before any legislative intervention emerges.

If you–or someone you love–have been injured in an automobile accident, do not hesitate to get in touch with the Personal Injury lawyers at the Law Office of Richard J Serpe, PC.

Toll Free 877-544-5323


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