If you ask people what their greatest annoyance on the road is these days, many will respond that it is those pesky drivers who hold animated conversations on their cell phones while driving. Nobody likes to see a distracted driver chatting away with only one hand on the wheel as they speed down the highway, ready to cause a serious auto accident.
Studies support the general perception that talking on a cell phone while driving is not safe. In fact, some studies have compared cell phone conversations behind the wheel to driving while under the influence of alcohol. It’s an issue that many states and local governments are taking seriously. Some, like Washington D.C., have passed “hands-free” laws, which require a hands-free device to be used with cell phones.
Virginia already has a law on the books that makes it illegal for drivers under the age of 18 or those still using a learner’s permit to use a cell phone for talking or texting while behind the wheel. Until now, no bill has successfully passed in the Virginia General Assembly that ban cell phone use for driving adults in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some lawmakers want to go even further than the hands-free laws and ban the use of all wireless devices while driving – that includes the use of hands-free devices.
It’s a controversial topic. To date, while five states and the District of Columbia require the use of hands-free devices, no states have completely banned the use of all wireless devices.
It looks like this year lawmakers in Virginia will try again to pass a law restricting the use of wireless devices like cell phones and Blackberries. At least two laws have been put before the General Assembly so far, one to ban only text messaging while driving and the other similar to the hands free law in DC.
Only time will tell if Virginia lawmakers indeed have the stomach to make such a ban reality.