Virginia lawmakers are considering making it illegal to hold a phone while driving. Proposed House Bill 874 would ban drivers from handheld cell phone use, such as talking on the phone or playing mobile games. A law prohibiting texting while driving is already in place.
While many applaud the bill, citing its ability to reduce distracted driving accidents, others remain hesitant to allow this form of government control. Similar bills have failed to pass in the Commonwealth previously, but safety advocates hope this year will be different as the General Assembly is presented with the opportunity to ban handheld cell phone use while driving.
Handheld Cell Phone Use While Driving in Virginia
Similar hands-free bills have been passed in 21 other states, this includes West Virginia, Maryland, and Tennessee. Under the proposed Virginia bill, drivers would not be allowed to hold their phones while driving but would still be allowed to use them hands-free. First-time offenders would be fined $125 and $250 for any subsequent offenses. Drivers may use their phones when they are lawfully parked, stopped, or using their phone to report an emergency.
The Distracted Driving Epidemic
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 3,166 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in the year 2017 alone. Electronic diversions, particularly cell phones, are one of the biggest contributors to the problem. At any moment during the day in the United States, approximately 481,000 drivers are handling cell phones or other electronic devices.
In the time it takes to send or read a text, drivers going 55 miles per hour can travel the length of a football field. When a driver takes their eyes off the road even for a few seconds, it can lead to a catastrophic car accident; the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that drivers are three times more likely to get into an accident when distracted by a cell phone.
Controversial Hands-Free Laws
Distracted driving is one of the country’s biggest health concerns, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Non-profit groups and other safety advocates are calling for passage of House Bill 874, noting the severity of the distracted driving epidemic, and the successful passage of similar laws in other states.
However, according to a member of the Virginia Senate, there are several members of the General Assembly who may be uncomfortable with allowing what they consider to be an intrusive measure of control by the government. Some drivers also feel that they should not be punished or restricted in handheld cell phone use due to others’ negligent actions; therefore, they remain opposed to the bill. Similar bills have failed to get enough votes in the past, it remains to be seen whether the hands-free bill will be approved this time. Many are optimistic, considering that Democrats recently won decisive majorities in the House and Senate.
Car Crash Lawyers In Virginia Beach Represent Victims of Distracted Driving Accidents
If you were injured in an accident due to another driver’s negligent actions, such as talking on a cell phone or texting, contact one of our experienced car crash lawyers in Virginia Beach car crash lawyers today. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we help all victims injured in distracted driving accidents, and we will help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 757-352-2237 for a free consultation about your case. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we also serve clients in Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, throughout North Carolina, and nationwide.