Government Tries to Stop Distracted Drivers Accidents

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

June 22, 2005

As technology progresses, more and more vehicles are coming equipped with TVs and DVD players, but the amount of car accidents has increased right along with it.

"All you have to do is take your eye off the path of travel for half of a second you're going to pay the price," said Richard Wharam.

Wharam teaches his student drivers at Albemarle High School how dangerous it is to have distractions. "At any one given moment, 31 percent of drivers are not paying attention," said Wharam.

In fact, a new year-long study from Virginia Tech shows more than 75 accidents and 750 near-crashes were recorded in Northern Virginia due to driver distractions.

"Teenagers tend to get distracted by what's inside the car. They're fiddling with the radio, the CD, or talking with a passenger, or on the cell phone," said Wharam.

You can imagine Virginia Tech said the biggest distraction was talking on the cell phone. Not to mention the amount of TVs in many cars.

Starting July 1st under the new Virginia law, all TVs and DVDs cannot be visible to the driver when the car is in motion. It can be displayed in the dashboard as long as there are safety measures put in place.

"When we install the video systems here at Crutchfield we always install them based on the law, and that is we only install them so they will only be operable when the vehicle is stopped, in park, and the emergency break is engaged," said Jude DeFrank, from Crutchfield.

"I have no problem with the DVD being on the seat back. [I understand that] parents want to entertain their kids when going on long trips," said Wharam.

Experts said as long as it's the kids being entertained, not the driver. They also recommend that drivers stay at least 4 seconds behind the car in front of them. That is so that there is enough time to stop in case there is a distraction.

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