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Why this Powhatan deputy has made driving safety his life's mission

Why this Powhatan deputy has made driving safety his life's mission
Posted at 5:38 PM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-13 04:48:24-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- April is distracted driving awareness month. Data shows that deaths and injuries from traffic crashes have increased over the last year.

According to the CDC, car crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages five to 19.

As the problem is taking lives, some companies have begun to share messages to grab attention about the dangers of distracted driving.

Drive Smart Virginia's executive director Janet Brooking believes that these strong messages pack a powerful punch. She encourages all companies to come up with creative ways to raise awareness about traffic safety.

"We are encouraging all entities to distribute materials, have programming, share and retweet the importance of driving distraction-free," Brooking said.

Powhatan deputy Brad Hughes believes everyone in the community can help solve the problem of distracted driving. It became his life's mission after he lost both of his legs and nearly died when a distracted driver hit him eight years ago when he was responding to a pile-up during an ice storm.

"In three seconds, you can change somebody's life and in three seconds, someone can die," Hughes said.

Virginia traffic fatalities continue to rise from the cities to rural areas with construction zones being the leading location where these accidents happen. Reasons like this are why Virginia traffic experts and law enforcement agencies are putting forth an extra effort to target distracted drivers.

For Hughes, the troubling statistics are never far from his mind.

"We are looking at in 2021, there were a total of 10,408 crashes between Chesterfield, Powhatan and Henrico. In my county alone, where I'm a deputy, in Powhatan, we had a total of 317 crashes. Eight of those were fatal. Henrico County had 12 that involved texting and driving. So it happens every day," Hughes said.

Taylor Williams, a VCU project impact facilitator, and Hughes often join VCU nurses at area schools, bringing live crash simulations to students.

"The impact of a crash on the body. So we have a presentation. I think it really gets to the students hearing and seeing what happens to them when they first get to the emergency room," Williams said.

They are powerful visuals that they hope will stick and cause drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their minds on the drive.