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Virginia lawmakers revive legislation to crack down on distracted driving accidents

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Approximately 7,654 people have died on Virginia roadways from 2009-2018. The state reached a low point in 2014 (703 deaths), but since then, the number of deaths has been rising each year. There were 820 traffic fatalities in 2018. Distracted driving is among the leading causes of serious and fatal crashes in Virginia.

Safety experts at Drive Smart Virginia assert that distracted driving is the cause of 80 percent of all statewide traffic fatalities. Distracted driving kills more than 3,000 people each year across the United States. What's worse, studies have found that several drivers could be distracted by cellphones at any given time. For example, there could be several distracted drivers in your vicinity while traveling on Interstate 581.

Lawmakers seek to crack down on distracted driving

A ban on cellphone use while driving is among the many laws that may be passed in Virginia, according to NBC Washington.

Some lawmakers in Virginia have revived a bill to crack down on distracted driving. HB 1439 was introduced by Democratic Delegate Jay Jones in January of 2020. A Virginia House Transportation subcommittee is currently reviewing the bill.

The bill will prohibit drivers from physically holding or manipulating cellphones if it becomes law. The only exceptions are emergency situations and for transportation workers. The penalty for first-time violations of the cellphone ban would be $125.

The House and Senate approved a similar bill in 2019, but couldn't come to agreements on the language. In addition, some lawmakers worried that the bill would lead to racial profiling by law enforcement. The bill failed in 2019.

What else does HB 1439 cover?

HB 1439 won't only crack down on distracted driving. It's a general transportation safety bill that would also:

  • Prohibit open alcohol containers in motor vehicles
  • Require all vehicle occupants to wear seat belts
  • Make failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense
  • Establish a speed monitoring program that takes pictures of drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 mph
  • Allow local municipalities to lower their speed limits below 25 mph in business and residential districts

If the bill is passed, it will not take effect until July 1, 2021, according to WTOP.

Until then, distracted driving may continue to endanger Virginia road users. Crash victims have the right to take legal action. The legal team at Davis, Davis, Davis & Davis, PC represent clients in Roanoke and across southwest Virginia. We can help you explore your legal options and recover all damages owed to you. Contact us online today to find out how we can help.

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