Lawmaker seeks to ban using cell phones while driving

Proposal bans holding phone while driving

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Picking up your cell phone and getting behind the wheel could soon be a thing of the past.

When state lawmakers return next week, they’ll be faced with a new proposal to make Virginia a hands-free state. That means you would have to have your phone mounted or use a hands-free device when driving. It’s not out of the ordinary to see someone hopping in their ride holding a cell phone before taking off.

Right now, it’s illegal to text or check your email while driving in Virginia - but it’s not illegal to talk and drive. That is, not yet.

"To me it just makes so much more sense. It should’ve been done a long time ago here,” said Patty Kruszewski.

Six years following her daughter’s death, Kruszewski is still in pain.

"It’s like you’re walking around with an arrow right through your heart. It doesn’t go away or get better,” she continued.

A hit-and-run driver killed her daughter Lanie as she was on a bicycle, leaving work on River Road. The driver was using his phone.

"They showed what he was texting in court and the ironic thing is he was sending a birthday message. It's not like it was important,” Kruszewski said.

She wants to see a tougher Virginia law that would ban drivers from using a phone altogether. That's now in the works.

House Bill 1811 is sponsored by Delegate Christopher Collins of Winchester.

"This bill is basically like if you have the phone in your hand, you’re going to get a ticket,” said Janet Brooking of Drive Smart.

That means you don't have to be driving erratically in order to get pulled over.

Collins, a former police officer, says the law enforcement community advised him the Commonwealth needs a law with more teeth to help them enforce putting those phones down.

Last year, the state of Georgia went hands-free.

"They just announced [Thursday] they’ve seen a 10% drop in fatalities in one year,” Brooking said.

Could it do the same here? This mother sure hopes so.

"I've heard it being compared to being burned alive or skinned alive and I'd agree with that. It's an awful feeling,” Kruszewski said.

Under the proposal, if you’re using your phone to use a GPS, the phone would need to be mounted so that you’re not holding it. The General Assembly re-convenes Jan. 9.

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