Will Virginia’s New Distracted Driving Law Keep Motorists Safer?
Driving distracted puts every motorist on the road at risk. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, fatal crashes due to distracted driving totaled 3,450 in 2016. In Virginia, 4,138 distracted driving crashes resulted in injuries and 78 resulted in fatalities. Our Richmond personal injury attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff specialize in representing the rights of people hurt by distracted drivers and know how to maximize our clients’ settlements or awards. We offer free consultations and will never collect legal fees unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at (804) 358-1568 or contact us online.
Distracted Driving Overview in Virginia
Distracted driving involves an individual operating a vehicle without their full attention to the operation of that vehicle or uses a cell phone while operating their vehicle. Virginia law
currently makes it illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving, including the writing, sending, or reading of a text or electronic messages. Unfortunately, texting and driving or talking on the phone are just two of a virtually unlimited number of driver distractions
. These distractions fall into three broad categories, including:
- Cognitive - Thinking about something other than driving
- Manual - Taking your hands off the wheel to do something else
- Visual - Looking at something other than the roadway
Any type of distraction is a danger to the individual operating the vehicle and others on the road. Texting and driving is a particularly dangerous type of driver distraction, as it combines all three.
Consequences for Distracted Driving
Understanding the consequences
for distracted driving ahead of time may prevent taking the risk to drive distracted. Texting is banned for all drivers in Virginia. The fine for a first offense is $125 and $250 for subsequent offenses.
A recent bill before the Virginia General Assembly
would define distracted driving as a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can stop a driver for suspicion of texting and driving. The fines increase to as much as $500 and the bill also mandates a minimum $250 fine if the offense occurs in a construction zone. Exemptions are only given to emergency personnel and also those stopped or parked lawfully.
Neighboring states such as Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and Washington have laws fining drivers for simply having their phone in their hand. Virginia law has been slow to match existing technology allowing the use of social media apps and even phone calls without breaking the law.
Many drivers operate vehicles while distracted, often creating dangerous situations. New laws may create stiffer penalties and change the dynamics of drivers on the road. Drivers choosing to text and drive put innocent people like you at risk. If you are a victim of a distracted driver and are injured, an experienced Richmond personal injury lawyer
can help. Contact Emroch & Kilduff today at (804) 358-1568 for a free case evaluation or contact us online