It is the next wave to make our roads safer. The Virginia House and Senate have both passed legislation toughening up penalties for texting and driving.
The Senate voted 24-15 and the House of Delegates voted 92-4 Tuesday to pass identical bills that would increase the fine to $250 and make it a primary offense. That would allow police to stop and ticket anyone they spot texting behind the wheel. The fine for a second offense would be $500. If a motorist is charged with reckless driving as a result of texting, there would be a mandatory minimum $500 fine.
I say Alleluia!
Here are the facts
Drivers who send text messages are 23 times more likely to be in a crash. When drivers read or send a text, their reaction time is doubled. Of all cellphone-related tasks, texting while driving is the most dangerous.
Now here are two recent personal experiences that I have seen that make me shiver. Yesterday, it was not so scary. Mainly the driver was driving much less than 40 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. However, it was 5 p.m., rush hour. Traffic was a bit heavy. When I passed him I saw he had one hand on the wheel and the other hand holding a phone, the thumb moving a mile a minute.
A couple of weeks ago it was very scary. I had my children with me. We were driving on Interstate 64 in Norfolk back to our home in Newport News. We were in the right lane on the bridge to enter the Hampton Roads Tunnel the lady in front of us swerved to the right several times. She entered the tunnel and continued to drive the same way to the point, my daughter, sitting in the front seat next to me, saw sparks as she touched the tunnel wall. I quickly passed her when we left the tunnel (in the far left lane). As we did, my daughter saw the device in the driver’s hand. She was looking down way more than up. I laid on the horn, trying to get her attention. The driver did not flinch.
In both cases, these were not teenagers. They did not even appear to be in their 20s, but pushing 40 perhaps. So parents, please consider not answering that call with a text.
This is going to be the next big accomplishment for making our roads safer. We reduced drunk driving with stiff penalties. We made seat belts for children and adults mandatory, now we will stop texting while driving or pay the price.