Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine signed into law this week a ban on text messaging while driving. This new law will take effect July 1st. It is a secondary offense, which means that the police must spot a more serious violation in order to pull a driver over. This law means that Virginia joins a growing number of states that ban texting while behind the wheel. D.C. has already banned texting while driving and the Maryland General Assembly is moving to make texting while operating a motor vehicle illegal as well. Text messaging while driving is widely considered one of the most dangerous things to do while operating a moving motor vehicle.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported the Bill easily passed the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate last month. The bill, sponsored by Del. John Cosgrove of Chesapeake, would make texting a secondary traffic violation — meaning a driver could get only a $20 ticket for the offense if pulled over for another reason. Second and subsequent texting-while-driving offenses would result in fines of $50.
According to AAA, as of mid-February, seven states had laws on the books that ban text messaging while driving, and legislation to ban text messaging for drivers was pending in 34 other states. Cosgrove’s texting bill provides exceptions for the use of GPS devices, the use of wireless devices during an emergency and for the operators of emergency vehicles. Texting in a stopped or parked car is also allowed. During his presentation of the bill, Cosgrove cited statistics saying distracted driving accounts for approximately 80 percent of traffic accidents in Virginia. A recent survey stated that one-third of Virginians admit to text messaging while driving. At ABRAMS LANDAU, we ask that if you must text from your car, that you pull over and do your text messaging while at the gas station, waiting in the parking lot or when your car’s ignition is off and the parking brakes are engaged. Be safe, be smart; don’t text while driving a car, truck, van, boat, golf cart or motorcycle.