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Posted at 12:27 PM ET, 02/ 8/2011

UPDATED: Virginia Senate passes bills to crack down on texting while driving

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

The Virginia Senate has passed two measures in an attempt to crack down on cell phone use in the car.

One bill would make texting while driving a primary driving violation for which a driver can be pulled over by police. A separate measure would make using a cell phone while driving a primary driving offense for provisional license holders--teenagers with restricted licenses.

It is already illegal to text and drive in Virginia, but police can only ticket drivers for violating the law as a secondary offense, if they have pulled a driver over for violating a different traffic law. The Senate adopted the bill to make texting a primary offense on a 28 to 11 vote.

Likewise, it is already illegal for teens to use their cell phones in the car but they can only be ticketed for violating the law if pulled over for another reason. The Senate passed a bill to make cell phone use a primary offense for teenage drivers passed 33 to 7.

The bills will now be considered by the House of Delegates, which has typically killed such measures in the past.

UPDATE 4 p.m.: On a vote of 26 to 13, the senate has passed a third measure that would make it illegal to answer or initiate a cell phone call while driving without using a hands-free device. The bill--similar to proposals killed in previous years in the House--would allow police to pull drivers over for violating the law.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | February 8, 2011; 12:27 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Comments


Why has it taken those obese redneck lawmakers so long to pass something like this?

Posted by: kenk33 | February 8, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

all cell use while driving should be banned. period.

Posted by: slick3 | February 8, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

You can already be ticketed for failure to give full time and attention. This is just lawmakers wanting publicity. No cops have said they desperately need the law; no judges have complained that drivers are just laughing at the maximum penalty. There is no need for this law.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | February 8, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I think legislation has value in raising public awareness in forums like this one but it will be difficult to solely legislate our way out of this issue. I just read that 72% of teens text daily - many text more 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook - even with their professors. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and its not going away.

I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. It also silences call ringtones while driving unless you have a bluetooth enabled. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

Erik Wood, owner
OTTER LLC
OTTER app

Posted by: ErikWood | February 8, 2011 11:41 PM | Report abuse

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