Virginia: Cell phone, texting laws, legislation

Last updated: July 15, 2014
Distracted driving news:
Text messaging by all drivers has been subject to primary enforcement for more than a year. In the law’s first 10 months, 1,427 convictions for texting & driving were reported by the DMV. Fairfax County continues to post the most convictions, with 318.

flag of Virginia for hands free storyPrimary enforcement for text messaging and driving allows police to stop and cite motorists for that offense alone. Fines have also were significantly increased as of July 1, 2013, from the old $20 to $125 (first offense) and from the previous $50 to $250 for subsequent offenses. There also is a $250 minimum fine for reckless drivers who are texting at the time of the offense.

The Senate narrowly OK’d a 2014 plan to make cell phone use by novice drivers subject to primary enforcement, but the plan died in a House subcommittee.

Eight out of 10 crashes in the Commonwealth are blamed on distracted drivers, safety officials say. Virginia State Police said 131 people died in 2013 because of “a driver failing to pay attention.”

Current prohibitions:

  • All drivers are banned from text messaging. Fines $125 to $250.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cell phones or text messaging.
  • Commercial drivers and school bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones or text messaging

Read the laws: Texting and driving | teen drivers | commercial drivers.

Distracted driving legislation (2014)
Senate Bill 139: Would make use of a wireless telecommunications device by the holder of a provisional driver’s license a primary offense. Includes hands-free cell phone use. Cleared by the Transportation Committee in an 11-3 vote of Jan. 15. Approved by the Senate in a 19-19 vote of Jan. 21. Rejected by a House subcommittee (Public Safety) in a 3-5 vote of Feb. 20. Dead. (Barker)

House Bill 212: Would outlaw driving a motor vehicle while holding a pet. Never considered by Transportation Committee. Dead. (Marshall)

Distracted driving notes (2014):
Drivers with learner’s permits would have been subject to primary enforcement for cell phone violations under a bill passed by the Senate in late January, but the plan was shot down in a House subcommittee. The legislation, Senate Bill 139, was from state Sen. George Barker.

Fairfax County drivers racked up the most convictions for texting under the new primary enforcement law, the DMV said in its report on the first six months under the strengthened law. Fairfax County had 168 out of the state’s total of 725, while Virginia Beach City logged 71. Other top areas were Prince William County (62) and Arlington County (41), the DMV said in late January. The totals reflect convictions from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2013.

2013 distracted driving notes:
Virginia State Police say they’ve cited 328 drivers for text messaging since the offense became subject to primary enforcement. The citations were written between July 1 and Sept. 28, police said in late October 2013. The Fairfax division of Northern Virginia issued the most citations, 171.

“Keep in mind that this data does not provide an exact account of the problem that exists concerning texting while driving on Virginia’s highways,” State Police superintendent W. Steven Flaherty said. “Drivers can also be cited for reckless driving and, therefore, (the offense would not be) included as a texting-while-driving violation.”

A group charged with distracted driving education says it’s seeking an opinion from the state attorney general about the legality of using social media while behind the wheel. The issue is whether posting to social media sites such as Facebook constitutes texting.

The primary enforcement law barely made into the books when the Washington Post declared it “all but toothless.” The Post’s reporter noted that drivers who are pulled over for texting on handheld cell phones need only say they were talking on the phone or getting directions via a GPS app.

The program Drive SMART Virginia is trying to get commercial truckers in line with the federal regulations regarding use of cell phones and other handheld electronic devices. The “Phone Down, Just Drive” campaign is largely educational, but deputies have been busy in May writing tickets for cell phone and seat belt violations — about 100 in a three-week period in New Kent County. The DOT regulations are backed up by primary enforcement.

The massive construction project along I-95 around Dale City hasn’t made much of an impact on distracted drivers. AAA and construction firm Transurban say more than half of the drivers who come through the zone use their cell phones, and a fifth admit to text messaging in the area. (The numbers are based on a survey of 1,000 drivers.) About 1,500 workers are in the corridor each day. The project’s safety initiative is called “Orange Cones, No Phones.”

The twin bills that toughened enforcement of the Virginia texting & driving law were approved during the 2013 legislative session by the governor and General Assembly.

The legislation’s increased fines were too high for Gov. Bob McDonnell, whose proposal to halve them was accepted by both houses of the General Assembly on April 3.

State Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, vice chair of the Virginia Crime Commission, said a complete ban on driving while texting — making it a primary offense — was the priority distracted driving legislation for 2013. Mission accomplished April 3, when the governor and lawmakers agreed on a tougher distracted driver plan.

Howell filed SB 981, which would bar drivers from use of all handheld communications devices in school dropoff zones. Fines would be $250, she said. That plan was incorporated into catch-all driving & texting legislation, above.

The 2013 General Assembly measures was kept busy by a swarm of similar distracted driving bills filed as the state’s texting law came under heavy fire:

A judge, prosecutor and lawmakers had been highly critical of Virginia’s text messaging law after the court had to throw out a reckless-driving charge against a driver who allegedly was texting when he hit and killed a college student.

Texting was at the time a minor traffic infraction in Virginia subject to secondary enforcement. In the widely publicized case, the driver, from Alexandria, hit and killed the student in 2011, prosecutors said. “The law needs to be changed,” the Spotsylvania commonwealth attorney said.

Virginia issued about 63,000 tickets for texting & driving in the five years ending in fiscal 2011, the Washington Post reported.

2013 distracted driving legislation
House Bill 1907: Would make text messaging while driving a primary offense. Seeks to increase fines to $200 and then $500 for subsequent offenses. Would establish a $500 minimum fine for reckless driving while texting. See SB 1222, below. Approved by the House in a 92-4 vote of Feb. 5. Approved by the Senate Courts Committee in a 9-6 vote of Feb. 15. Approved by the Senate on Feb. 29 in 28-12 vote. Final General Assembly sign-off Feb. 23. Governor proposes halving of proposed fines. Latest legislative action: General Assembly approves governor’s amendments April 3. The final House vote was 86-8. The Senate vote was 36-4. HB 1907 is identical to SB 1222, below. (Anderson)

HB 1907 incorporates HB 1357, HB 1360, HB 1495, HB 1540, HB 1848 and HB 1883.)

Senate Bill 1222: Seeks primary enforcement of state texting & driving law. Increases fines. Sets minimum fine for reckless driving while texting. See HB 1907, above. Approved by the Senate in a 24-15 vote of Feb. 5. Latest legislative action: Approved by the House Courts Committee in a 16-1 vote of Feb. 15. Approved by the House in a 91-6 vote of Feb. 22. OK’d by the Senate in a 27-12 vote Feb. 21. Final General Assembly sign-off Feb. 23. Governor proposes halving of proposed fines. Latest legislative action: General Assembly approves governor’s amendments April 3. The final House vote was 86-8. The Senate vote was 36-4. Identical to HB 1907, above. (Norment)

SB 1222 incorporated elements of SB 1160, SB 981 and SB 1238)

House Bill 1360: Would make non-phone call use of handheld communications while driving a primary offense, punishable as reckless driving. Would repeal current texting law, which has secondary enforcement. See HB 1907, above. (Cline)

HB 1357: Seeks primary enforcement status for violations of state’s texting & driving ban. (Rust)

2012 distracted driving notes:
The House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee has been a burial ground for distracted driving legislation during the past three sessions. In 2012, it wasted no time in shooting down at least 10 distracted driving bills. Sen. George Barker’s plan to make text messaging while driving subject to primary enforcement (SB 219) was approved by the full Senate in February, 2012. Barker’s bill that would apply primary enforcement for junior drivers suffered the same fate.

Of the 10 distracted driving measures filed for the 2012 legislative session, three sought to prohibit use of handheld cell phones and five would have given primary enforcement status to the text messaging law. One unusual bill included a ban on personal grooming and reaching for objects not within an arm’s distance. Another would have created a blanket offense of doing something other than driving safely.

Del. Bobby Orrock filed a bill that would make most forms of distracted driving subject to primary enforcement. “We need to look at it in the full context,” said Orrock, R-Caroline, who cites “texting, putting on makeup, snarfing down a cheeseburger, whatever” as examples of distracted driving. His legislation, HB 532, failed to make it out of committee. Del. Vivian Watts, D-Fairfax, filed a similar but more specific plan, HB 415, that also failed to advance. (Both bills below.)

A subcommittee of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee took up eight distracted driving bills on Jan. 26, but reported out (advanced) none of them. By the end of the session all 10 distracted driving bills in the Legislature were rejected by the panel. This was a rerun of the past two legislative sessions. Subcommittee chairman Del. Ben Cline said he preferred to see distracted driving enforced under existing reckless driving statutes. “We need to refocus the attention of law enforcement and our judges” on reckless driving behaviors, said Cline. Four of the five subcommittee members are Republicans.

2012 distracted driving legislation:
Senate Bill 219: Would make text messaging while driving a primary offense. Approved by the Senate Transportation Committee on Jan. 18 in an 8-5-1 vote. Approved by the Courts of Justice Committee on Feb. 6 in a 10-4 vote. Approved by the full Senate in a 28-12 vote of Feb. 12. Died in the House’s Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee in March. (Barker)

SB 210: Would apply primary enforcement to the existing offense of texting or use of a cell phone by a provisional driver. Currently secondary enforcement. Approved by the Senate Transportation Committee in an 11-3 vote on Jan. 18. Approved by the Senate on Jan. 26 in a 30-10 vote. Died in the House’s Public Safety Committee in March. (Barker)

House Bill 394: Would ban use of handheld personal communications devices while driving, notably cell phones. Includes bicycle riders. Primary enforcement. Fine: $20 then $50. Considered but not advanced by a House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee on Jan. 26. Died in the House’s Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee in February. (Algie Howell)

HB 404: Restricts use of handheld personal communications devices to making and receiving cell phone calls. Secondary enforcement. Fines: $20 then $50.Considered but not advanced by a House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee on Jan. 26. Died in the House’s Public Safety Committee in February. (Torian)

HB 415: Would require use of hands-free devices in order to make or receive cell phone calls or to read text messages while driving. Would bar drivers from searching for items that are not “immediate arm’s reach.” Would prohibit attending to personal hygiene or grooming while driving. Secondary enforcement. Fines: $40 then $100. Considered but not advanced by a House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee on Jan. 26. (Watts)

HB 497: Would ban use of handheld personal communications devices while driving, notably cell phones. Includes bicycle riders. Primary enforcement. Fine: $20 then $50. Similar to HB 394, above. Considered but not advanced by a House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee on Jan. 26. Dead. (Dance)

HB 532: Would create offense of “operation of a motor vehicle while engaged in other activities” that impair the ability to drive safely. Primary enforcement. Considered but not advanced by a House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee on Jan. 26. Died in the House’s Public Safety Committee in February. (Orrock)

HB 652: Would remove secondary enforcement limits on Virginia’s existing ban on text messaging while driving. Police would be able to stop and cite offenders for that reason alone. Considered but not advanced by a House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee on Jan. 26. Died in the House’s Public Safety Committee in February. (Kory, Albo, Bulova, Watts)

HB 874: Would make text messaging while driving a primary offense. Considered but not advanced by a House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee on Jan. 26. Died in the House’s Public Safety Committee in February. (Rust)

HB 1053: Would make texting and driving a primary offense. Considered but not advanced by a House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee on Jan. 26. Died in the House’s Public Safety Committee in February. (Anderson)

2011 distracted driving notes:
All efforts to put teeth in Virginia’s distracted driving laws failed in 2011 as no bill made it beyond the House and Senate committees. The House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety has rejected numerous distracted driving measures.

Fairfax County’s nine-month crackdown on distracted driving netted almost a 50 percent increase in citations vs. the same period a year ago. The sweep, which ran concurrent with the school year, yielded about 6,900 tickets in 2010-11, compared with 4,670 in 2009-2010. Police camped out in “unorthodox” locations seeking distracted driving offenders.

Fairfax police, “frustrated by a toothless (texting and driving) law that the Virginia legislature passed (in 2009),” are instead attacking distracted driving under an older law against failure to pay attention while behind the wheel.

Also, the Fairfax County police are conducting an online survey about distracted driving, seeking information on public attitudes and behaviors.

Legislation failures: “It’s a great disappointment and it’s a blow to traffic safety in the state of Virginia,” AAA Mid-Atlantic rep John Townsend said upon hearing that all distracted driving bills in Virginia have been rejected in 2011.

The House’s Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee has been a burial ground for distracted driving legislation during the past two sessions. This year’s crop of bills from representatives and senators all failed to advance beyond that panel. The Senate bills mirrored its 2010 legislation, also killed by the committee.

The Daily Press of Newport News commented that the House committee ” — filled with libertarian, ‘government-hands-off’ politicians — has been the killing field for lots of public safety bills over the years.”

Martha Meade, a spokeswoman for AAA Virginia, knew that getting distracted driving legislation through the General Assembly would be “quite an uphill battle.”

The Senate’s 2011 bills sought to toughen the existing distracted driving laws by making them subject to primary enforcement. One would have outlawed use of handheld cell phones while operating a motor vehicle.

At least seven bills targeting distracted driving were in the hopper in the House of Delegates, but all died. Two sought to ban handheld cell phone use by drivers (in addition to text messaging). Three planned to upgrade the existing Virginia text messaging law to primary enforcement, meaning police can stop and cite motorists for that reason alone.

More than 100 Virginia businesses have vowed to observed the “Orange Cones. No Phones.” employer safety pledge developed by Transurban-Fluor and AAA Mid-Atlantic. The campaign seeks to protect workers on the Capital Beltway HOT Lanes Project and the Dulles Metrorail Project.

2011 distracted driving legislation (dead):
Senate Bill 1042: Would make text messaging while driving a primary offense. Approved by the Virginia Senate on Feb. 8, in a 28-11 vote. Latest action: Rejected by the Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety on Feb. 17. (Barker)

SB 1047: Seeks primary enforcement status for current law that prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using cell phones or text messaging. Approved by the state Senate on Feb. 8, in a 33-7 vote. Latest action: Rejected by the Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety on Feb. 17. (Barker)

SB 1351: Would outlaw use of handheld cell phones by all drivers. Hands-free OK. Seeks primary enforcement for use of wireless communications devices while driving. Fines: $100 then $200 with possible points against license. (Would apply to current penalties for text messaging.) Latest actions: OK’d by the Senate on Feb. 8, 2011, in a 26-13 vote. “Laid on the table” (killed) by the Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety on Feb. 17. (Norment)

Virginia House Bill 1489: Would upgrade existing text messaging ban to primary enforcement status. Identical to HB 1546, below. Left on table in Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee on Feb. 8. (Spruill)

HB 1404: Seeks to extend Virginia’s text messaging ban to bicycles, mopeds. Would make violations subject to primary enforcement. Dead in committee as of Feb. 8. (Howell) View bicycles & distracted driving page.

HB 1424: Would prohibit the use of handheld cell phones by all drivers. Dead in committee as of Feb. 8. (Dance)

HB 1546: Would toughen existing text messaging ban with change from secondary to primary enforcement status. Identical to HB 1489, above. Dead in committee as of Feb. 8. (Kory)

HB 1630: Would ban cell phone use by all drivers as well as “other wireless telecommunications devices.” No provision for hands-free operation. Deletes current fine system for text messaging in favor of making violations Class C misdemeanors. Secondary enforcement. Latest action: On Jan. 20, a House subcommittee recommended no action be taken on the bill. Dead in committee as of Feb. 8. (Watts)

HJ 621: Calls for Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to study and report on “disincentives” for use of cell phones will driving. Would include primary vs. secondary enforcement and an analysis of current state laws. “Left on table” in Rules Committee as of Feb. 8. (May)

HB 2307: Doubles fines for use of handheld portable electronics if vehicle is in a highway work zone with workers present. “Left” in Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee as of Feb. 8. (Sickles)

Virginia cell phone, texting legislation notes (2010):
Fairfax County police reported that they ticketed more than 9,000 people for inattentive driving during 2010. That’s a 24 percent jump from 2009′s numbers. Fewer than 50 citations for driving and texting were written in the county last year due to the state law’s loopholes and its “secondary” enforcement status.

Text messaging continues to distract more drivers on the Capital Beltway, a survey released in mid-November 2010 found. The number of texting-distracted drivers increased by 47 percent in the past year, said AAA, which did the survey with a highway construction company. A majority of the Beltway motorists said they drove while distracted, with 53 percent talking on cell phones and 13 percent texting.

The House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety effectively killed all distracted driving legislation proposed for the 2010 session. The transportation committee spent most of its time on license plate issues.

Del. David Bulova, D-Fairfax, who introduced HB 212, says this about distracted driving enforcement: “It really does send mixed signals about whether we’re serious about enforcing this if you make it a secondary offense.” The current text messaging law “does hamstring our police officers.”

2010 legislation (dead)
Virginia Senate Bill 517: Adds use of handheld cell phones to existing texting law and upgrades enforcement to primary status. Fines from $100 to $200. Approved by the Senate on Feb. 2 but tabled by the House subcommittee on Militia, Police and Public Safety on Feb. 24. Bill dead for the year. (Norment)

Virginia House Bill 22: Would outlaw the use of any handheld personal communications device while operating a motor vehicle, bicycle, moped, etc. Fines from $20-$50. This legislation would make text messaging and related activities a primary offense, meaning law officers could pull over a driver for that reason alone (current law calls for secondary enforcement). Assigned to public safety committee, where it was “left on the table” as of Feb. 16. (Howell)

HB 58: Would add use of handheld cell phones to current law prohibiting text message. Drivers would be prohibited from using mobile phones unless a hands-free device is employed. Fines from $20-$50. Secondary enforcement. Assigned to public safety committee, where it was “left on the table” as of Feb. 16. (Dance)

HB 212: Would remove current text messaging law from secondary enforcement status. Assigned to public safety committee, where it was “left on the table” as of Feb. 16. (Bulova)

HB 221: Would make drivers using handheld cell phones guilty of careless driving if they commit another offense at the time. “Left on the table” in public safety committee on Feb. 16. (Watts)

HB 783: Would extend current text messaging law to include use of handheld cell phones. Retains secondary enforcement. If accident results, violation would be a Class 3 misdemeanor. “Left on the table” in public safety committee on Feb. 16. (LeMunyon)

Virginia Senate Bill 10: Would extend current sanctions on drivers’ use of wireless devices to include handheld cell phones. Secondary enforcement would remain. Incorporated into SB 517 (above). (Blevins)

SB 574: Would extend ban on on drivers’ use of wireless devices to include handheld cell phones. Retains secondary enforcement. Incorporated into SB 517 (above). (Ticer)

2009 legislation:

HB 1876
: Prohibits text messaging while operating a motor vehicle. Took effect July 1. Approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Tim Kaine on March 30.

SB 1227: Would ban drivers with provisional licenses from talking or texting on cell phones, regardless of whether a hands-free device is employed. Makes violations a primary offense. Tabled by a House subcommitee on Feb. 19 after being approved by the full Senate on Feb. 9.

SB 874 — Would require that drivers use hands-free accessories when making cell phone calls. Passed by the Senate Transportation Committee on Jan. 22, 2009, in amended form, but then defeated in the Courts of Justice on a tight vote. Incorporated SB 996.

HB 1615 — Delegate Algie Howell, D-Norfolk, has prefiled legislation to the 2009 General Assembly that would ban text messaging while driving. The ban would extend to bicycles and mopeds. Incorporated into HB 1876, above.

HB 1659 — Would prohibit use of wireless telecommunications devices while operating a motor vehicle, including bicycles and mopeds, whether handheld or not. Also from Howell. Died in committee on Feb. 10.

HB 1955: Would outlaw motorists’ use of handheld phones. Tabled in committee.

HB 1769: Drivers would be banned from using cell phones unless a hands-free device is employed. Tabled in committee.

Virginia cell phone, texting legislation notes (archived):
Delegate John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, is the author of the text messaging legislation HB 1876. Fines for those who drive and text will be $20 and then $50 for subsequent offenses. It assumes negligence on the part of violators if an accident occurs.

A spokesman for AAA told the Examiner that the secondary status of the new texting law — meaning police would have to have another, primary reason for pulling over drivers — makes it “tantamount to telling people you can do it.” Still, he called it a “moral victory.”

Sen. Patricia Ticer, D-Alexandria, saw her cell phone legislation clear committee on a 9-6 vote before losing in the Courts of Justice on a 7-6 vote. Ticer’s bill was combined with SB 966 from Sen. Harry B. Blevins, R-Chesapeake.

Delegate Bobby Mathieson, D-Virginia Beach, a veteran of the cell phone wars, saw his HB 1955 die in committee on Feb. 10, 2009. His past efforts included HB 904.

The 2009 Regular Session convened Jan. 14, 2009. The short session ended the next month.

The younger-driver prohibitions went into effect in 2007. The prohibitions on school bus drivers became effective July 1, 2008.

“I believe this is a common-sense restriction on those new drivers who may be tempted to pay more attention to phone calls and text messages than the road, endangering themselves and other drivers,” Gov. Tim Kaine said of the 2007 law.

Virginia’s school bus cell phone/ texting law results in a primary offense; the teen driver law is a secondary offense.

The local AAA backed the 2007 legislation; some conservatives opposed the teen driving plan, saying parents should make the rules for their kids.

Comments

  1. Donna Clemons says:

    Due to traffic building, all drivers should not talk on cell phones.

    Should be required to use wireless earpiece If cannot afford.

    talk when not driving This is any age.

  2. Joey Stiford says:

    Talking and texting while driving is fine! People could be trying to eat and almost hit a car. Guess we should ban eating while driving too huh?

    All these stupid laws

  3. MilitaryMale says:

    When are these laws going to be enforced i see several people daily on cell phones and texting and cutting off traffic and effecting other drivers by not paying attention. Seriously this is a major problem and penalties need to be awarded and enforced.

  4. Paula McElroy says:

    Having spent time in a Virginia traffic court (as a witness) and watching the judge dismiss almost every violation, I have to wonder if this isn’t something designed to keep the politicians employed and the give the masses the illusion of being “protected”.

  5. kevin turnet says:

    Guess it will be illegal to have a radio or change the station while driving. I want my country back!!!!

  6. I completely support these laws and hope they are just the beginning. After seeing the consequences of distracted driving, I believe this issue needs to be tackled as soon as possible.

  7. I dont care what law passes if i want to talk on my cell phone i will. i see police on thier cell phones all the time. until they ban them from using them going down the road ill use mine any time i want too and ill kick anyones butt that trys to stop me. this country has gone to the dogs in a hand bag and they wonder why groups of people are poping up all over the place against the so called goverment. this is why. ill do what i want when i want to and dare them to try and stop me.

  8. Judy Russell says:

    NO BODY is that important ..(.including you j.r who said you would do it no matter the law) . It is because of arrogant, irresponsible idiots like (your self ..j.r) that we ,the innoncet, have to mandate safety rules to ensure the safety of our families. As far as I am concerned…it should be Attemped murder. I have been behind you , beside you , in front of you who are talking on the phone. I see how you drive, where your attention is and mainly where it is NOT! And please remember driving in the us IS NOT YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT …IT IS A PRIVILEGE.

  9. What we have here on this discussion page is a spin off of the ever classic debate of rights v. duties.

    I understand the focus on one’s rights as with the libertarian perspective: the fewer the laws the better; your body, your property, your decision to do with how you see fit, of course, without going so far as to infringe upon the rights of others.

    On the flip side, what about the persons who strive for tougher laws to ensure road safety? As we drive down the road, we encounter countless vehicles, all with one thing in common: all have a single operator. Is it not the duty of each of those operators[drivers] to operate those vehicles in such a way that supports the system of transit, allowing the system to run smoothly?

    Let’s use common sense here, folks. Before engaging in multiple activites while driving (i.e. radio channel surfing, talking on a cell phone, eating), there should be a question asked: Could this activity negatively impact my ability to operate this motor vehicle? This is a simple yes/no question that should never be answered with the assumption that one can, simply because one has done so before without negative consequence; an example would be driving under the influence of alcohol.

    Let’s use common sense here, folks. The answer to this question may vary from driver to driver, situation to situation. What is good for one is not good for all. Some folks view the radio as a distraction; for others the radio is a source of tranquility with which they use to soothe their aggressive-driving tendencies.

    I believe we should engage in activites that aid our ability to drive in a calm, focused manner. This will probably not be the same for every driver. Let’s use common sense here, folks. If listening to political commentators like Hannity and Colmes is something that provides you with a positive state of mind suitable for driving, by all means, good for you. If listening to that same Hannity and Colmes segment would cause you to become so aggitated that you pound on the steering wheel while yelling obscenities, then perhaps that is not the best driving situation for you. Should we talk on the phone while driving? Let’s use common sense here, folks. If you are in a heated argument with your baby-daddy about late child support, then no. Although, some calls can be completed without emotional uproar. I see no problem with those. But, again, let’s use common sense here, folks.

    I believe folks are used to making decisions based on what is legal or illegal. This is an illogical method of decision making. I hope we can all agree, simply because something is not illegal, doesn’t mean it safe, nor does it mean it’s a good idea. Thus, we should use common sense to make decisions.

    Many people talk on cell phones while driving, without using common sense. This has caused enough accidents to invoke legislation against such use. I believe the logic behind the hands-free effort is the notion that our attention lies within our hands and eyes; where our hands and eyes go, our minds follow. If we take our hands off the steering wheel, and our minds off the road, who is driving our vehicles? No one. That’s how accidents occur.

    So, let’s use common sense here, folks. Our right to do what ever we want while driving is now being limited because many of us neglect to ask ourselves if what we want to do while driving can impare our ability to drive. Many of us have failed to meet our duties to society, even after being given statistics on cell phone use in relation to motor vehicle accidents. Personally, I gladly surrender my right to talk on my cell phone while driving, because my duty to be a safe driver is more important.

  10. I just want to know is it or is it not illegal in the state of Virginia to talk on a cell phone while driveing? My office is split 50/50 some say yes it is illegal if not hands free and some say it isn’t. I can’t find a straight answer.

  11. i say it should be allowed to only hands free. i completely agree with Judy Russell .

  12. Ridiculous. Let’s not confuse safety with legislators trying to get re-elected. We are not children. I’ve been driving for 26 years. I can talk on my phone and drive safely.

  13. Anne Vroom says:

    I am looking for information on VA HB 1546 but don’t see it on this website.

    • Thanks for the tip, Anne. HB 1546 is identical to HB 1489. Both seek to upgrade the text messaging ban to primary enforcement. They’re listed above under “2011 distracted driving legislation.”

  14. this is bull**** what if people have to use navigation or even text people to find out how to get somewhere

  15. Bob is the sort of ignorant, self centered person that this law really should apply to. I agree with an earlier post that if there is a accident caused by someone on the phone, that a charge of attempted murder should be appplied. If you really have to text or talk, your time is so important that you can’t pull over for a minute? Some of you people are really clueless! And Bob, I hope that the only person you kill or injure is yourself.

  16. Thomas Compton says:

    Some people can drive and talk on cell phones safely–not many mind you, but some can.

    NO ONE can text and drive safely. I see more and more of this insane behaviour. Texting and driving should carry identical penaties to drunk driving.

    Driving on public roads is a privilege, not a right. How many people need to be killed and maimed before we recognize this irresponsible behaviour for what it is: criminal recklessness.

  17. you all stupid if you think using cell phones in cars are cool if you need directions or crap just pull over and ask someone for them, and if you can’t do that you can always put the phone on speaker, boo hoo so its a little fizzy, i think you can put up with it for a little while. also gps systems tell you when to turn, you don’t have to look at it constantly. peace out!

  18. Distracted driving laws are already in place in Virginia (“The Washington Post reported that Fairfax police were … using an older law against failure to pay attention while driving” –see above).

    The danger of texting or talking on a phone is losing the necessary concentration to safely operate a vehicle, not the inherent act of using a phone. There are millions of Americans who safely text and talk on the roads everyday. Those who become distracted to the point that they are unsafe indeed deserve a ticket, and can be issued one under the current distracted driving law.

    To say that any texting or talking is categorically unsafe is the kind of over-simplification sought by weaker intellects; perhaps those very people who lack the ability to safely multi-task.

    If a driver is not operating their vehicle safely, they deserve a ticket, regardless of the source of their distraction. Conversely, if a driver is able to operate their vehicle safely, it should not matter what else they are doing. Every driver has a responsibility to be safe, and those that fail to meet that responsibility can, and should be punished under existing laws.

  19. Linda Atkinson says:

    I think it’s a great idea TO NOT TEXT OR USE YOUR CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING! But is it against the law, yet? I understand it is for teens but how about adults?

  20. DONALD MORGAN says:

    From the Virginia Baptist Church Sign:

    “HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS
    TEXT WHILE DRIVING IF
    YOU WANT TO MEET HIM”

  21. Chris Audi says:

    Will somebody please explain to me, why the legislation banning texting and cellphone use was NOT passed in Virginia?

    I drive a SCHOOL BUS for FCPS. Cell phone use is PROHIBITED while driving! Why would we allow the population as a whole jeopridize themselves and others while on the phone? What message are we sending our children?

    Daily I see accidents caused by DISTRACTED DRIVING. Much of this could be stopped. How many innocents must die before the OLD DOMINION gets a brain?

  22. Kenneth Cameron Sr. says:

    If you can’t wait until you get home, then it must not be inportant enogh to pull over and make a call back to them. The same way texting is a life worth it. You can not do driving, and talking on cell phone,or texting at the same time!!!!!!!

  23. Pat Onderdonk says:

    There should be no texting while driving — for any age.

    There shoujld be no cell phone use unless there is an emergency — and it should be recorded.

    Each and every day I drive home heading west using the Dulles Toll Road and then the Greenway. Not only do I have the joy of paying $5.55 to do so one way, I am able to watch people swerving into other lanes, speeding up and then slamming on brakes, or not braking at all and whipping around other cars. Safe driving? I don’t think so.

    WHAT ARE WE DOING TO OURSELVES?? I thought the rule was do only one thing at a time, and do it right. I have to say, if driving isn’t a number one priority with all the millions of drivers on the road, then I don’t know what is.

    We are killing ourselves by things meant, supposedly, to make our lives easier. It does not make sense at all and young and old alike are dying.

    What does it take? A relative in everyone’s family to be fatally killed before laws are enacted? Haven’t we seen enoujgh trajedy doing it this way?

  24. I am glad they have not passed any more nanny state laws such as those being discussed here. What about talking to a passenger? Are they going to outlaw that next? What happened to personal responsibility? Are we going to outlaw all behavior that might hurt others? Do we value individual liberty or not?

  25. Al Cinamon says:

    Mike, let me explain the difference between talking on a phone and talking to passengers. While talking to passengers, if a situation develops that requires your undivided attention you will stop talking to your passengers and deal with the situation. And they will understand because they see what you’re dealing with. The same goes for listening to the radio. You will just tune it out when a situation arises.

    However, when talking on a phone you simply cannot stop talking or listening because that would be rude. The person on the other end might not know that you’re driving so you have to pay attention and keep up your end of the conversation and to hell with the traffic situation. Any questions?

  26. Al Cinamon says:

    To Julie who posted on January 8, 2011:”I can talk on my phone and drive safely.”
    I am willing to bet that every driver who ever crashed uttered those same words…..just before the crash. Think about it.

    Some have called these “nanny” laws “stupid.” Well, unfortunately we need “stupid” laws because so many drivers out there are stupid.

  27. Al, we don’t need “nanny” laws because we value our individual freedom. I have no problem stopping my conversation whether I am on the phone or whether I am talking to my wife in the passenger seat. Are you suggesting we should criminalize all use of a cell phone or just criminalize using one without a “hands free” setup? It is not rational to suggest that stopping a phone conversation is any more rude than stopping a personal conversation. Besides, if you are responsible, you will stop when you need to regardless of whether or not it is rude. I have. It is easy to explain and apologize. The bottom line is that you want to control how I live my life. Tyranny will creep into our society on the backs of people like you. Give me my freedom to be responsible. Don’t support laws that criminalize everything you don’t like.

  28. Al Cinamon says:

    The key phrase in your argument is “if you are responsible.” And that’s my point. Too many, if not most, drivers are irresponsible. Stupid, if you will. That’s why we need speed bumps, red light cameras, school crossing guards, railroad crossing gates….and….cell phone laws!

  29. Al, as I said, tyranny will creep into society on the backs of people like you. You think that we can make a law to protect people from irresponsible behavior. I disagree. People do stupid things all the time. A baby in the back seat of my car is a serious distraction. When it wants something, I may turn to take care of it. That is endangering my life, my baby’s life and the lives of others on the road. When I take a bite of my Big Mac while flying down I95, that is endangering others as well. When I look at the radio to change the station, that is endangering others as well. Where do you draw the line on government laws? Are you willing to outlaw everything that you do in your car that is not directly related to driving the car? Is there any limit to the laws you would support?

  30. Al Cinamon says:

    So let’s take your argument to the other extreme. Should I be allowed to run red lights? How about stop signs? And why can’t I speed if I want to? Ooh, the nanny state is so restrictive.

    Yes, there should be laws against all forms of distracted driving. I’ve said many times that the laws that are being passed are hypocritical. They’re designed to just fool the public into thinking that the State cares about safety. It doesn’t!

  31. That is not a logical progression of my point. You are leaping from something done in the privacy of my car to violating laws that control the flow of traffic. Distracted driving is not the same thing as purposely running a red light. Personal freedom and personal responsibility should be important as well. There needs to be a balance. All I am saying is that there are many, many things that distract a driver and outlawing specific things is an infringement on personal liberty. If I do something stupid, like get into an argument with a passenger and run a red light, I should get a ticket for running the red light. But if I am distracted but still follow the traffic laws, I should be left alone.

  32. Al Cinamon says:

    Wrong again. There are things done in the “privacy” of your car that are regulated by the “nanny” state. Examples: at least one hand on the wheel — sorry, you’re not allowed to steer with your elbows or knees even if you think you can. You must wear a seat belt even if you don’t want to. You must use your mirrors and turn your head to make safe lane changes, even if you’re too lazy to do so.

    You talk about logic? You’re using public roadways, dammit. You don’t have the right to drive distracted and possibly injure of kill someone because of your unfounded personal freedom to do so. Driving is a full time job. It requires your undivided attention. And if you’re going to tell me that you’re one of the few who can chew gum and walk at the same time, I have news for you. Every driver who ever crashed felt the same way. They all think they’re in control until something bad happens and then, if they survive, realize that they were not so ambidextrous.

  33. in1nuthouse says:

    So who is going to enforce this new law with the police in Richmond area? This whole past weekend I saw everyone we passed going to town on their phones.

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