Bill by Peninsula Lawmaker Targets Distracted Driving in Virginia
Distracted driving in Virginia is being targeted in a new bill in the General Assembly that could mean fines for drivers who use cell phones.
The bill is sponsored by Peninsula Democrat Mike Mullins and comes at a time when driving deaths are rising in Virginia.
Our Hampton Roads car accident lawyers are concerned distracted driving may be leading to an increase in deaths when cars are meant to be getting safer. Virginia lawmakers note an increase in fatalities in the Commonwealth from 2017 to 2018.
Delegate Mike Mullin, a Peninsula Democrat, is sponsoring a bill that would take aim at distracted driving.
According to lawmakers, Virginia saw an increase in driving deaths from 2016 to 2017. That’s the first time there has been a rise in four decades.
In recent months, many states have brought in tougher distracted driving rules. A new law in Oregon effectively bans drivers from using hands-free devices at the wheel.
Virginia House Bill 181 is intended to target negligent driving by cell phone users. The bill:
“Provides that any person who drives a vehicle on any highway in a negligent manner but does not endanger the life, limb, or property of another or (while using a handheld personal communications device where such use substantially diverts the driver’s attention from the operation of the vehicle is guilty of improper driving. Current law authorizes a court to find a person charged with reckless driving not guilty of reckless driving but guilty of improper driving, which under current law is punishable as a traffic infraction with a fine of not more than $50.”
It is illegal to text and drive in Virginia. This ban extends to using social media sites or texting other information while behind the wheel. However, it’s legal to use a hands-free phone to make a call while driving.
Mullin told WAVY.com he isn’t proposing a cell phone ban but his bill is about tackling distracted driving in Virginia. He said the bill is about making common sense laws to save lives.
Cell phone use would be illegal under the bill if it substantially diverts attention.
Mullin said he’s concerned to see drivers concentrating on their phones at the wheel. Those crucial few seconds can be devastating for other drivers as well as the distracted driver.
Mullin said police will have to catch people in the act under the bill. If you’re caught, you could be fined up to $500.
The distracted driving bill has passed out of the committee but is still waiting to be voted on.
At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, we pick up the pieces of distracted driving. We help people who were injured because a driver was using his or her phone.
We recently set up a 2018 scholarship program intended to combat distracted driving in Virginia. To enter our scholarship competition, students must submit an essay or a multi-media project related to distracted driving.
We are offering three awards of $2,000. Please contact us at (757) 455-0077.