ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Even as far back as 2005, the Virginia Department of Transportation pointed out issues of driving on I-81 in our region. It pointed out that the mountainous terrain made it difficult for drivers to maintain consistent speed. Also, the high volume of tractor-trailers makes traveling on I-81 challenging at best.

“We had 1,004 people lost their lives in Virginia roadways last year,” said Morgan Dean the Spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

He said that looking away from the roadway for more than 2 seconds doubles the risk of being in a crash.

“Limiting distractions, it’s now illegal here in Virginia to have that cell phone in your hand. If you’re going to be using it, put it in a holder to use the GPS, hand it off to a copilot, or put it in airplane mode or driving mode and store it in that center console,” said Dean.

 He added that drowsy driving can also be very dangerous. AAA estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in an average of 328,000 crashes annually.

“If you start to get to a point where you do not remember the last couple of miles that you have driven, if you feel like you have gone into some sort of auto-pilot mode and you’re not really as focused in front of you as you could be, if you start to do that, nodding off, those are signs that you are driving drowsy,” said Dean.

If you are towing something behind your vehicle, you should be aware that this can change the dynamics of driving.

“Just encouraging drivers if they are going to be towing something, understand how much weight you’re towing, what that does to the vehicle, and what you need to do as a driver to be able to control all of that,” said Dean.

And, as always, drivers should avoid drugs and alcohol. There are many options you can use like a designated driver, a ride share, or a cab to get home safely.

Starting July 1, there is a change to the ‘Slow Down Move Over’ law. Cars will now have to slow down and move over, if possible, for any stationary vehicle on the side of the road displaying red, blue, or amber flashing lights, as well as any stationary vehicle displaying hazard lights, flares, or an emergency sign.