Kendall Law Firm Blog

VA Lawmakers Focus on Seat Belts and Cell Phones in Proposed Legislation




  |  posted by Kendall Law Firm   |   Car Accidents

Distracted driver on their cell phone in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lawmakers recently introduced bills for the Virginia General Assembly’s “short session” that focus on preventing car accidents, injuries and deaths on our state’s roads.

Our law firm protects the rights of accident victims and their families throughout Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. We are glad to see our legislators paying attention to these serious traffic safety issues.

Let’s take a closer look at each bill:

Ban on Using All Hand-Held Devices While Driving

Distracted driving clearly poses a major threat in Virginia and across the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that as recently as 2014, an estimated 3,179 people died and 431,000 suffered injuries in the U.S. in crashes involving distracted drivers.

Virginia law currently addresses distracted driving in many ways. The law prohibits texting while driving among drivers of all ages. Additionally, it bans:

  • Cell phone use by drivers under age 18
  • Hand-held cell phone use by commercial drivers and school bus drivers.

On December 7, 2016, Sen. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax) introduced S.B. 860, which would expand the reach of these current laws and bar the use of any hand-held “personal communication devices” by drivers of all ages. Only the use of voice-activated, hands-free devices would be allowed.

Additionally, under the bill, any violation of this ban that occurs concurrently with an additional traffic offense (such as speeding) or results in an accident would make the offense punishable as “reckless driving.”

The legislature sent the bill to the Senate’s Transportation Committee in January 2017.

When one considers the many dangers created by the use of phones while driving – see our Reckless Racer game to get a good idea – we urge lawmakers to act on this bill before the session expires.

Mandatory Seat Belt Law in Virginia

Virginia law currently requires safety belt use only by:

  • Drivers
  • Occupants under the age of 18
  • Passengers age 18 or older who are occupying the front seat.

A bill introduced in the House on December 27, 2016, by Del. Paul E. Krizek (D-Fairfax) would require all occupants of motor vehicles to use safety restraints, regardless of their age or where they are seated.

The bill, H.B. 1558, currently is before the House’s Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. As with S.B. 860, we encourage our lawmakers to give serious consideration to this proposed legislation and the serious traffic safety benefits it could provide.

As the NHTSA reports, in 2014, seat belts saved an estimated 12,802 lives among passenger vehicle occupants ages 5 and older in the United States.

Our Harrisonburg Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You

At Kendall Law Firm, we care about motor vehicle safety, and we care about you. When you are injured in a crash, our experienced car accident lawyer will be here to advocate for you and help you to pursue the compensation you deserve.

We serve clients in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Winchester, Staunton, Woodstock and surrounding areas. Contact us today to discuss your case in a free consultation.

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