Organization urges VA to prohibit cellphone usage in construction zones

Published: Feb. 14, 2017 at 7:09 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2017 at 12:23 PM EST
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Two organizations are launching a campaign to promote safe driving during work zones. (Source:...
Two organizations are launching a campaign to promote safe driving during work zones. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A bill to ban handheld phone use in work zones will be heard in by the a Senate transportation committee on Wednesday.

HB 1606 would prohibit any person from texting or using a cellphone in any way while driving through a highway work zone, when workers are present.

Drive Smart Virginia, a nonprofit awareness group, supports the legislation, urging people to contact legislators to voice support.

The organization points out that the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting increases crash risk by 2,300 percent.

"Work zones, by their very nature, are inherently problematic as they change up the established traffic pattern. There have been 10,097 crashes, 6,281 injuries, and 43 fatalities occurring in work zones over the past three years (2013-2015) in Virginia," stated an email written by Drive Smart Virginia to lawmakers.

It added that "distracted driving continues to be the number one concern of highway workers, law enforcement, and towing and emergency response personnel."

"This bill does not apply to emergency vehicles or to persons reporting an emergency or vehicle operators who are lawfully parked or stopped, or the use of any factory-installed or aftermarket GPS," pointed out the email.

The bill adds an exemption to the prohibition against using a handheld personal communications device in a moving motor vehicle for an operator of a vehicle who activates, deactivates, or initiates a factory-installed feature or function on the vehicle.

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