Hundreds of people are killed in car crashes every year throughout the state of Virginia. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, car wrecks are the leading cause of death for Virginia residents under the age of thirty. While car accidents are caused by a variety of circumstances, there are three factors that contribute to a large number of Virginia highway accidents and death: driver behavior, vehicle safety, and environmental factors.
Highway accidents are frequently caused by drivers' actions. There are many distractions that cause a driver to take his or her attention off the road: talking on a cell phone or texting, eating or drinking, adjusting the radio or other equipment in the car, and distractions caused by passengers. Driving while fatigued is another significant cause of collisions. Often professional truck drivers and other long distance drivers suffer from sleep deprivation due to long hours of driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is also a major cause of vehicle collisions resulting in injury or death. "Checkpoint Strikeforce" is an initiative throughout Virginia and other Mid-Atlantic states created to educate drivers about the dangers of driving while being intoxicated. This program strives to raise awareness and reduce the number of drunk or impaired drivers on the road.
Lack of vehicle safety is the second major cause of vehicle crashes on the road in Virginia. Paying attention to vehicle safety before you get on the road can save your life in case of a car wreck. Wearing a seat belt and properly installing child safety seats are very important aspects of vehicle safety. The Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia State Police, as well as local police enforcement organizations have active programs designed to increase awareness and education about safe driving and making your vehicle safe. "Click It or Ticket" is one such successful campaign and was created to encourage drivers to wear a seat belt while driving. Throughout the state of Virginia, local programs offer free child safety seats to people who cannot afford them and also provide free inspections to ensure proper installation. These and many other programs help reduce the severity and frequency of injuries and deaths from car crashes. In addition, delayed vehicle maintenance or repairs can contribute to cause collisions and injuries. Check your tires and fluid levels before you get on the road.
The third major cause of vehicle crashes in Virginia is environmental conditions. Bad weather and unforeseen road conditions increase the dangers of driving. Trying to navigate the road in rain, snow or ice adds to the risk of driving. In inclement weather, drivers need to slow down, allow extra following distance, avoid sudden moves, and be extra careful on the road. Sometimes poor vehicle maintenance and safety can combine with bad weather conditions to cause a dangerous situation. In addition, unexpected road repair and unrepaired roads can contribute to car wrecks and fatalities. Be prepared to slow down through work zones. If you see a dangerous pothole or other unsafe condition on a road, report it promptly to the Virginia Department of Transportation or local police department.
If you know the major causes of motor vehicle collisions in Virginia, and you know how to prepare for, avoid, or handle them, then you'll be less likely to be involved in a crash or cause injury to yourself or others. if we change our driver behavior, we can reduce the number of car accidents and traffic fatalities on our highways. Please help make our highways safer for us all.