As your lawyer, I do everything in my power to get you results.- Jim Hurley
Attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers
Is Distracted Driving Fueling a Spike in Fatal Road Accidents in Virginia?
In an era when car manufacturers are spending billions of dollars on new safety features and automation that’s intended to protect motorists, it’s alarming that we are seeking a spike in fatal road accidents.
Traffic deaths surged about 8 percent in the first nine months of 2016, continuing a trend seen the previous year.
The trend was also seen closer to home. Virginia Highway Safety Office is yet to release its 2016 Traffic Crash Facts report. The 2015 Traffic Crash Facts report highlights an upsurge in all road accidents in the Commonwealth including fatalities.
The report says 753 people were killed in 2015, a 7.57 rise on 2014. There were 125,800 crashes that were reported to police – up 4.5 percent on the previous year and 65,029 injuries, a rise of 2.6 percent. Although the number of registered drivers in Virginia increased, the 1.89 percent rise was less than the spike in deaths and injuries.
One piece of good news is the statistic related to drunk driving crashes. There were 241 fatalities in 2015, down 5.12 percent from the previous year.
In the past, drunk drivers accounted for as many as half of all fatal crashes in the United States. The alarming question is if DUI accidents are falling and manufactures are making safer cars, why is the death toll rising?
Spike in Fatal Road Accidents Comes as Drunk Driving Wrecks are Decreasing
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, business leader Warren Buffett blamed an upsurge in texting and other distracted driving.
The New York Times blamed the biggest spike in fatal road accidents in 50 years on the development of mobile apps, specifically:
Snapchat that encourages drivers to post their speed on its app;
Waze which rewards drivers with points if they report congestion and wrecks;
PokémonGo, although the craze for ‘collecting’ virtual Pokémon is declining in popularity.
Alarmingly, the trend remains upwards. In the first three-quarters of 2016, there were 27,875 highway deaths nationally, compared to 25,808 in the first three quarters of 2015. Speculation has also centered on the legalization or marijuana in more states and whether it fuelled drugged driving.
Hampton Roads cities saw some of the highest numbers of deaths in Virginia in 2015. Chesapeake with 18 deaths saw the largest loss of life of any city in the state. There were 16 deaths in Virginia Beach and 15 people lost their lives in Suffolk, Norfolk, and Newport News. Hampton recorded eight deaths and Portsmouth five.
The most deadly roads in Virginia are in Fairfax County where 30 people were killed in 2015.
John Cooper is a veteran of personal injury law practice in Virginia. A native Virginian, he was raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases and recently handled the largest auto accident settlement in 2010, according to VA Lawyers Weekly. The award provided $3.5 million to a child whose young father died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was rear-ended by a careless truck driver.
Jim Hurley has been practicing law throughout Virginia for more than two-and-a-half decades. During his career, he has tried more than 100 jury trials — a staggering number — and handled hundreds more that were settled out of court. He is guided by the principle that the client is in charge of his or her case and should be kept fully aware of the litigation process. Jim has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given, for his practice of law. He was named in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016.
Bill O’Mara started his legal career in 2008, moving back to his home town of Chesapeake, VA. He has practiced in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury and other litigation. He has gained extensive court room and trial experience, including contested trials before judges and juries across Hampton Roads. In 2014, Mr. O’Mara joined Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers as an associate attorney. He became a partner in 2017.
Cooper Hurley awards three $2,000 college scholarships annually to high school seniors in the Tidewater and Eastern Shore areas of Virginia. Eligible students can submit an essay of 500 to 1,000 words on the subject of Distracted Driving. We established this program to aid worthy scholars and to raise awareness of the tragic consequences of distracted driving, which we encounter too often in our practice.