If you don't use your phone while driving, you may be in the minority. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, over 220 million Americans have wireless phone plans, and as many as 80% of those individuals use their phones while driving.
To combat the use of phones while driving, Virginia recently passed a law that makes any cellphone use while driving illegal. Today, we're exploring phone use while driving and how this new law may change your life.
How Dangerous Is Phone Use While Driving?
According to the United States Department of Transportation (NHTSA), distracted driving killed almost 2,900 Americans in 2018 alone.
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that using a cell phone behind the wheel "reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%." Additionally, drivers who text while driving may be more likely to disregard certain safety measures, such as using a seatbelt or drinking while driving.
Generally, cell phone use while driving poses a significant danger to drivers and those around them, such as pedestrians and cyclists.
What's This New Law All About?
The new law, which went into effect starting January 1st, made all cell phone use while driving illegal. That's a significant change from previous cell phone use laws in Virginia, which only banned reading texts or emails.
State law enforcement officers (LEOs) hope the new law will make it easier to impose penalties on individuals who use their phones while driving. Making it illegal to have your cellphone in hand at all while on the road should make driving safer.
It's useful to note that the law does not apply to individuals who drive emergency vehicles or civilians who are in the midst of reporting an emergency.
If you are parked at a stoplight or stop sign, you can also glance at your phone, but as soon as you finish your stop or the light turns green, you must put it down again. Drivers who check their phones too long at stoplights and signs could face penalties for impeding traffic. It's also important to note that drivers can still use devices that make it possible to operate a phone without touching it, such as using hands-free Bluetooth to make a phone call in the car.
If you find yourself facing penalties after using your phone while driving, we can help. The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller works with Virginians to navigate criminal offense cases, including those related to traffic offenses such as DUI.