A study is underway to determine if Virginia needs to make changes to laws surrounding texting and driving. It's already illegal to do it, but a state lawmaker says he will propose legislation to make it a more serious offense.
It's something many people do, whether they admit it or not.
"All you have to do is drive down the road and you can see people doing it. It's patently obvious and it's very dangerous," says Del. Manoli Loupassi of District 68.
He says he will propose legislation to make the state's law tougher, possibly increasing fines or making texting and driving a primary offense, meaning something a police officer can stop you for without having any other reason. Loupassi is also working with the Virginia Crime Commission to make it happen.
"There have been study after study that shows it's on the equivalent of drunk driving," he said.
AAA says it's in support of changes as well. The company says 80% of all crashes involve something that distracted the driver within three seconds of the crash. It also says people who text are 20 times more likely to crash than those who don't and as many as 1/3 of Virginians admit they do it.
So with toughening the law....
"They are going to be less likely to engage in the conduct because we need to discourage it," Del. Loupassi said.
He's confident other legislators will join him in taking action.
"I think you will have out of this General Assembly session a new driving while texting law," he said.
If a person is actually ticketed for texting and driving, AAA says it's only "a slap on the wrist."
The State Crime Commission says it's moving quickly to take action with a meeting scheduled for the beginning of December.
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