Did you know that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds? That may not sound like long, but at 55 mph that’s like driving the length of an entire football field- blindfolded. Yikes!
Of course, we all love our cell phones. We depend on them to manage our daily schedules and stay connected while on-the-go. We’ve gotten attached. But it’s important to set limits while driving so that unnecessary accidents don’t happen.
Many states have begun legislating on this issue with distracted driving laws, but they vary. Be sure you know your state’s distracted driving laws!
Virginia texting-while-driving law allows you to talk on your cell phone while driving- unless you are under 18.
Drivers under age 18 are prohibited from using cell phones (handheld or on a hands-free device) in any way while driving, and this is a primary offense.
[Time out. You may be wondering, "What is a 'primary' offense?" It means an officer can pull you over for it without having to first witness some other violation like running a red light.]
So if you look like you’re under 18 and you’re doing anything at all on your phone, you can be pulled over.
Now when it comes to texting while driving, Virginia is a lot more restrictive. All Virginia drivers are prohibited from texting- period. This is a secondary offense in Virginia, meaning you can only be pulled over for it if an officer also sees you violating some other primary offense (like speeding).
One special case in Virginia’s distracted driving law has to do with bus drivers. Driving our children to and from school is considered an especially important duty, so bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones in any way while driving. This is a primary offense.
This past weekend, West Virginia started enforcing its new ban on text messaging while driving as a primary offense. Since July 1, 2012, law enforcement officers in West Virginia are now allowed to pull you over and give you a ticket for texting while driving- even if you were not violating any other driving law.
The fine is $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $300 for a third offense. Once you reach three texting-while-driving offenses, three points will be assessed against your driver’s license.
As for talking on a cell phone, West Virginia only allows use with hands-free devices (like Bluetooth headsets). Talking on a handheld device while driving will remain a secondary offense in West Virginia until at least July 1st, 2013.
What else should you know?
- Get a complete list of all cell phone and texting laws for drivers from every state, courtesy of the Governors’ Highway Safety Association.
- Learn some truly scary facts about how distracted you really are while driving.
- Hear true stories from families affected by distracted driving, take a pledge to drive distraction-free, and consider getting involved with the cause at FocusDriven.
Be safe! And make sure your friends and family are, too. Share this info with your loved ones- before they hit the road this summer!