Virginia Legislature Aims to Stop Texting While Driving
Texting while driving has become one of the most serious problems on the highway today, including in Virginia. We have seen it on our morning commutes. The car weaving from lane to lane, slamming on breaks and stopping late, and a person behind the wheel, phone in hand, oblivious to the fact that they are operating a 5,000lb vehicle at 60 miles per hours, eighty-eight feet per second.
Between January 1st, 2016 to December 31st, 2016, 175 Virginians were killed on the highways by distracted drivers and over 14,700 Virginians were injured in phone related, distracted driving incidents. This is an incredible number a tragedy that is growing daily. The Virginia DMV reports there are approximately 700 fatal crashes a year, and 24% of fatal crashes involved distracted driving. Without significant legislative intervention, this number will grow.
Senate Bill 1339 would make it a Class I misdemeanor if a distracted driver causes serious injury to a pedestrian or bicyclist. The penalty would include the suspension of the privilege to the driver.On Jan. 24, Del. Tag Greason (R-32) joined fellow state delegates Rich Anderson (R-51) and Ron Villanueva (R-21) at a press conference in Richmond, Virginia, to showcase their efforts to fight distracting driving. “All across Virginia, citizens are demanding we take action to cut down on distracted driving to save lives and make our roads safer,” said Greason. “The goal of my HB 1763 is to create a license plate campaign designed to engage high school students and raise awareness as part of a coordinated effort with my colleagues. Holding an open competition for the plates artwork empowers our youngest drivers to hold us all accountable to put down our phones when behind the wheel.”
Whatever is done, the youth of Virginia must be engaged in the process and taught the significant consequences of distracted driving. It is equally as dangerous as drinking and driving.The pivotal factor taking in all of the proposed legislative measures is enforcement. Until cellphones do not operate while the engine runs, education and training are the best hope for everyone on the highway. Teach your children, practice what you preach, and keep our highways safe. Download Full Document as PDF