VA lawmaker proposes stricter ban on cellphone use while driving

Updated: Dec. 26, 2016 at 4:38 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Keeping you safer on the roads - by making it illegal to hold your phone while driving. That's what one Virginia lawmaker is proposing.

Senator Scott Surovell (D) is committed to making sure drivers keep their eyes completely focused on the road. The habit of looking down at a phone could be costly, so Senate bill 860 is meant to prohibit drivers from holding phones all together....with a few exceptions.

"You can use it hands-free but you cannot hold the phone to talk to text," said Janet Brooking with Drive Smart Virginia.

Brooking says their organization stands behind the changes.

"It would really be a good law, because it helps law enforcement have no gray areas. If you've got the phone in your hand, you're going down," said Brooking.

You could receive a ticket - or face criminal charges - if you're not operating completely hands-free behind the wheel.

"Even if you just hold your phone, most people have the notifications set up. I think holding it is just as dangerous," said Tori Stanley, who recently started driving.

"It's really time to look at how technology is advancing and bring that law up to speed," said Brooking. "What we know is 94 percent of all crashes are caused by driver error. It's not the road, it's not the car, it's the driver making bad decisions."

It would add that phones can only be used in a car if the driver is operating completely hands-free. A Bluetooth or windshield mount would be acceptable, which organizations like Drive Smart Virginia completely stand behind.

For newer drivers like Stanley, getting a ticket is the last thing she wants.

"That would give me more of a reason not to use my phone and be less distracted," said Stanley.

It's an incentive to always look up, with the hope of preventing accidents.

The use of handheld devices while driving is currently prohibited in 14 states. If other lawmakers agree with this proposed legislation, the state of Virginia could be added to that list.

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