Distracted driving is on the increase in Northern Virginia’s heavily-traveled Interstate 95 corridor, with 62 percent of drivers saying they are likely to use their cellphone and the number who admit distractions have nearly caused them to have an accident rising from 24 percent in 2013 to 31 percent in 2014.
Those were the results from a survey of 1,023 drivers regularly travel the 95 Express Lanes project corridor, taken by Transurban-Fluor, the company building HOT lanes in Northern Virginia, and the AAA.
“Distracted driving is dangerous under the best conditions — it is even more dangerous in a work zone,” said Aubrey Layne, Virginia’s transportation secretary. “Drivers can make our roads significantly safer by taking one simple step – put down the phone while behind the wheel.”
Just 18 percent of the drivers said their employer has a policy regarding the use of cellphones for work while driving.
“If you’re driving distracted, you’re dangerous to everyone on the road,” said Lon Anderson of AAA. “Employers must actively work to change their culture and discourage employees from driving distracted by changing policy.”
Employers have been paying an increasing price when their workers get into accidents while distracted by mobile devices. Juries have awarded multimillion-dollar verdicts in suits brought against employers by victims.
The survey found that 18 percent of drivers said they opt to not read or write texts or e-mails in the I-95 construction zone. Only 11 percent say that they no longer talk on a cellphone in the construction zone.
“Driving distracted anytime, anywhere on the highway, particularly in a work zone, puts everyone at risk,” said Maj. Lenmuel S. Terry, deputy director of the bureau of field operations at the Virginia State Police. “With our increased visibility within the I-95 work zone, if our troopers observe any unsafe driving behaviors, then rest assured we will enforce the law.”
The 95 Express Lanes are on schedule to open in early 2015.