The Virginia Senate may pass changed to the state’s distracted driving laws, making it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone for any use while driving. Drivers would be required to have their smartphones in a dash mounted holder, or only use via a wired or wireless Bluetooth access for calls and other interactions.
It is currently illegal to text while drive, but enforcement is difficult since handheld calling is still legal. The 2 actions are difficult to distinguish from a distance, so law enforcement rarely writes tickets for texting while driving or other distracted driving.
Proposed fines would be up to $500 for any action that “substantially diverts the driver’s attention” And a $250 fine for using a phone in a highway work zone.
Distracted driving isn’t limited to just phone use, texting or messaging. Anything that takes your hands off the wheel and your attention off the road is a problem.
Eating, applying makeup, reaching under or across the seat to grab something, or even just having a heated discussion with a passenger is dangerous. Serious accidents can result, and that can lead to a criminal charge of reckless driving, or worse.
But phone use is a chronic and pervasive problem on the roads. If you look around, you will see people driving with their phones in their hands every day.
Technical remedies exist, but not everyone uses them. The iPhone has a Do Not Disturb mode built into iOS11 that is on by default, though many people turn it off. Android has one also. The phone can detect that you are in a moving car, turn off incoming messaging, and notify anyone via SMS or iMessage that you are not available.
It is hard to get used to, but you may actually enjoy the freedom of not responding to messages instantly. Try it out, and maybe save a life.