Texting while driving now illegal in Virginia

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - If you're prone to texting while driving -- then you are now breaking the law. Thanks to legislation that takes effect today, it is now illegal to text while behind the wheel.

This is just one of several new laws that take effect in Virginia today --  safety advocates have been pushing to get this on the books for years, ever since texting became popular -- but it was a study from a Virginia college that prompted action.

The unique research was conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

In the Virginia Tech study, 100 cars in Northern Virginia were outfitted with video cameras and other instruments that allowed researchers to witness crashes with their own eyes.

In the end, they document 82 crashes and what they found led them to one conclusion:  taking your eyes away from the road for any reason is going to increase your risk of being in a traffic crash.

"When you're texting, you have to look up and down, up and down -- all of that is cumulative," said Dr. Charlie Klauer of  the  Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.  You are continually missing critical information, where hazards could be coming in front of your vehicle, and you're going to miss it."

Driver Vicky Watson  said "A friend of mine got in a car accident when texting and driving, and I see people do it that drive like idiots, so I think it's best not to."

Another study by Dr. Klauer's team concluded that distracted drivers are to blame for up to 80 percent of crashes on Virginia's roads.

Now -- like with Virginia's seatbelt law -- texting will be a secondary offense, punishable by up to a $50 fine.

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