One of the main reasons for auto accidents in Virginia and throughout the United States is distracted driving – particularly, drivers distracted by digital devices. For years, lawmakers and law enforcement agencies have tried to address the problem. Part of that is implementing laws to penalize distracted drivers if they have injured others in an accident.
However, recent analysis shows that law enforcement and prosecutors have not been aggressive in trying to hold distracted drivers accountable.
Law passed in 2020 has not sparked increase in prosecutions
Statistically, 2.7 people die in a crash in Virginia every day. Many accidents – especially those in which a pedestrian or a bicyclist is involved – are believed to be due to distraction.
Lawmakers passed the “Vulnerable Road User Law” in 2020 in an effort to make the roads safer for riders and pedestrians. It gave prosecutors a clearer path to hold drivers accountable if they were distracted at the time of the accident.
The law reduced the proof requirement in these cases, making it likelier that distracted drivers would be convicted. Under the law, drivers could be jailed for 12 months and fined $2,500 for a conviction.
Despite that, only 14 people have been charged and only one was convicted.
The injured have rights
The relatively new law and the lack of attention it has received i demonstrate the challenges in trying to reduce distracted driving and make the roads safer. If drivers are not penalized for their behavior, then there is little to stop them from continuing to drive while distracted.
After an auto accident, the injured need to recover compensation for all that they lost. That includes medical care, reduced income and other challenges that come up.