Handheld Devices and Driving in Virginia
What you need to know about using your device behind the wheel in Virginia
Did you know that 8 out of 10 traffic crashes that occur in Virginia are related to a distracted driving incident? This statistic from Drive Smart Virginia goes on to mention that an average of nine people die and one thousand are injured every day in distracted driving crashes – mainly due to using technology behind the wheel.
In fact, all across the United States where at any given moment, around 660,000 drivers are using cellphones or other electronic devices while driving. Out of these drivers, 27 per cent of them are in their 20s and 10 per cent of drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal crashes, were reported as being distracted at the time.
In lieu of these numbers, the state of Virginia is one of several states who has adopted laws to curb distracted driving. Here’s what you need to know about cell phones and handheld devices behind the wheel.
A staggering 25 percent of teens respond to text messages at least once every time they operate a vehicle. This is why, in Virginia, it is illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to use cell phones – including handheld devices and bluetooth accessories – for any reason.
This law went into effect July of last year in an attempt to create safer highways for all motorists. It’s still considered a secondary offence though. So, as a minor, a police officer cannot pull you over for using your phone. However, they can pull you over for other means and issue a ticket for distracted driving.
The only time an underage driver can use a mobile device is when they’ve pulled over and come to a complete stop. Not texting could save your life and those around you.
Texting while driving is illegal for anyone, regardless of your age. This primary road offence comes at a price of $125 for your first time and $250 for your second and following offences. And, while texting is forbidden, there are some exceptions for adult drivers.
You can use your phone in any means to report an emergency as well as use your phone to access GPC as part of a digital dispatch system. If you’re stopped or parked, you can freely text.
Using your phone for personal calls including handheld, hands-free and bluetooth devices are currently legal, although some lawmakers are pushing for the use of handheld phone use to be banned. While Virginia cell phone laws still allow use behind the wheel, it’s important to remember that it’s still distracted driving and any such distraction can be dangerous to yourself and other motorists. When possible, always opt for hands-free devices or wait until you arrive at your destination.
There are some variances to distracted driving laws. If you’re an emergency service personnel, you’re allowed to call and text while performing official duties. If you’re a driver of a commercial vehicle, that’s not the case.
Using a handheld device to call or text is illegal and faces a heightened max fine of $2,750. Hands-free devices continue to be legal and commercial drivers can use bluetooth services to make their calls from on the road.
Do your part for safe roads in Virginia
Even a quick glance away from the road to reply to a message could cause serious accidents or and death. When you take your attention away from the road, you’re putting yourself, your passengers and your fellow drivers at risk.
At Warrenton Auto, we encourage you to never text and only use your phones when it’s legal and absolutely necessary. Any text or call can wait five minutes for you to pull over or arrive safely at your destination. Remember, it starts with you on our journey to safer highways and streets.