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A New Hands-Free Law?

Virginia lawmakers are considering two bills that would clarify “hands free” device use while driving. The two bills (HB 1811 and SB1341) have very strong support from victims of distracted drivers and their loved ones.A New Hands-Free Law? -- Altizer Law, PC

Perhaps one of the more gripping stories was about a young mother whose son was killed by a distracted driver who ran over the child’s stroller.

The current law about device use while driving prohibits the “reading of any email or text message and manually entering letters or text in the device as a means of communication.”

Supporters of the new bills include many police officers. One former officer said it is difficult, if not impossible, to know if a driver is texting or Facebooking. “I can’t write you for Facebooking, but I can write you for texting.”

The two bills promote a “hands-free” device use approach that would make it illegal for a driver to use any handheld device while driving unless the device is designed specifically to allow hands-free voice operation (using the speaker on a cell phone, for example). They also propose that driver’s license examinations include questions about distracted driving. We should note that virtually all cell phones are equipped with speaker capability. Most reasonably recent vehicles are equipped with Bluetooth functionality that makes cell phones accessible through the vehicle’s sound system.

If the two bills are not approved by today, the matter will likely not be considered again during the current legislative session.

According to preliminary data regarding distracted driving or driver cell phone use involved, there were 1,618 crashes in Virginia during 2018. These crashes caused 10 deaths and 933 injuries. The number of people killed and injured due to distracted driving continues to rise at an alarming rate.

What you can do: if these bills are not enacted today, and you agree with them, contact your Virginia delegate or senator and ask that the bills regarding hands free use of devices while driving be reconsidered during this legislative session.

If you or a loved one is injured in an auto accident with a distracted driver, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for your hurts and harms. Call Altizer Law, P.C., in Roanoke, VA for the legal representation of a top auto accident attorney. Bettina Altizer and her team have been trusted by people injured or killed in auto accidents for more than 30 years.