It seems these days that no one can go a minute without consulting their iPhone, Blackberry, or cell phone. No matter where we are, we’re never too busy to send a text message or an email—even if we’re driving. The state of Virginia (VA), however, says that a text message or email can wait-the language of the state law is set out below. On July 1, 2009 the Virginia state law went into effect making it illegal for drivers to text or e-mail while driving. Virginia has now joined 13 states and the District of Columbia in banning text messaging while driving. North Carolina (NC) followed Virginia and became the 14th state to enact a ban. For an example of what can happen with distracted texting driving view the video below:
The Virginia texting & email ban is Virginia Statute § 46.2-1078.1 states that, “It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth while using any handheld personal communications device to: 1) Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or 2) Read any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored in the device nor to any caller identification information.” Violators will receive a $20 fine for the first offense, and a $50 fine for a second offense. The law is a secondary offense, so officers must pull the driver over for a different violation, and then can add on the texting violation.
Statistically speaking, this ban could not have come sooner. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded drivers who text are over 20 times more likely to crash than those driving while not using a phone. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 28,395 crashes occurred in Virginia involving driver distraction. Of those, 114 people died and 14,480 were injured. Driver distraction, along with following a vehicle too closely, is the most common cause for crashes in Virginia, so lawmakers are attempting to make drivers stop focusing on their phones and pay attention to the roads.
For those of you who remain unconvinced, it turns out that texting while driving is just as dangerous as driving drunk, if not more! The Transport Research Laboratory found that motorists who use their mobile phone to send text messages while on the road dramatically increase the likelihood of collision. Their reaction times deteriorated by 35 per cent, much worse than those who drank alcohol at the legal limit, who were 12 per cent slower, or those who had taken cannabis, who were 21 per cent slower. In addition, drivers who sent or read text messages were more prone to drift out of their lane, the research found, with steering control by texters 91 per cent poorer than that of drivers devoting their full concentration to the road. Car and Driver Magazine recently conducted its own test, and it found that reaction time was much worse for drivers when they were texting while driving than when they were under the influence of alcohol.
When all is said and done, many accidents can be avoided just by paying less attention to our phone and more attention to the road ahead. Remember, that text message will be there when the drive is over, but if you answer that text, you might not be.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers. We also host a YouTube injury law video library with more than 50 videos covering many FAQs on personal injury subjects. Lawyers with Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton are licensed in VA, NC, SC, WV, DC and KY. They handle car, truck, railroad, medical negligence cases and more.