Virginia traffic fatalities are up substantially in 2017

Virginia traffic fatalities are up substantially in 2017 with distracted driving likely playing a role in the increase.

As a new year gets underway, it's worthwhile looking back at the state of road and highway safety in Virginia in 2017. Unfortunately, as the Roanoke Times reports, the previous year was a particularly bad one for traffic safety, with overall traffic fatalities increasing by more than 100 deaths in the past year. While it is too early to say what the breakdown of causes of those fatal accidents looks like, most safety experts agree that distracted driving likely played a significant role in the increase.

Virginia traffic fatalities increase

As of December 16, there were 815 traffic deaths in Virginia in 2017, which is 110 more deaths than were recorded at the same time in 2016, when 705 people had been killed on the Commonwealth's roads and highways. In the Salem district, which includes Roanoke, there have been 106 traffic fatalities so far in 2017, which is a substantial increase from the 71 traffic deaths police investigated in 2016.

The data also shows that in 40 percent of fatal crashes the vehicle struck a fixed object located off of the road, such as a tree or telephone pole. Such accidents are also more likely to turn fatal when they occur at high speeds and when vehicle occupants are not wearing their safety belts.

Is distracted driving to blame?

Another common reason why many drivers veer off the road or from their lane is because of distracted driving and it is widely believed that distracted driving has played a growing role in fatal accidents in recent years. The problem, however, is that distracted driving is very difficult to track since those who cause accidents because of distracted driving tend to either not admit doing so or have passed away in the crash itself.

As Slate reports, the National Safety Council estimates that 26 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by cellphone usage alone, a figure that doesn't take into account other types of distracted driving, such as GPS devices, talking to passengers, and even personal grooming, that can also increase the risk of a crash. Furthermore, both a 2016 AT&T study and 2017 AAA study found that two thirds of drivers say they have used their smartphones while behind the wheel of a car.

Personal injury law

Clearly, the threat from distracted and other dangerous drivers is very real and growing. Anybody who has been hurt in a crash knows firsthand just how devastating an accident can be and how difficult both the physical and financial toll tend to be. Fortunately, a personal injury attorney can help victims of motor vehicle accidents pursue whatever compensation they may be entitled to. While such compensation can never make up for the trauma of an accident itself, it can make the recovery process easier and less stressful for victims .