Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Will the House of Delegates Refuse to Keep Virginia's Roads Safe?

State legislatures all across the country have been passing bills for years that would require drivers to use a hands-free device if they are going to be talking on a cell phone while driving. If it's dangerous to hold your cell phone while driving, and multiple studies have shown it is, then the logical conclusion would be that it is probably even more dangerous to be texting while driving. With that in mind, state Sen. George Barker introduced a bill (SB 1042) that would ban texting while driving.

As it stands now, you can only get ticketed for texting as a secondary offense. This means you can't get pulled over simply for texting, but you could get a ticket for it if you were pulled over for something else (ie. if you were speeding, ran a red light, got in an accident, etc). If Barker's bill is signed into law, however, texting would be something that you could be pulled over for and given a $20 fine for a first offense and $50 for a second.

With so many people (including myself) constantly on their blackberries and the increasing use of texting, states all across the country have already taken the step to ban texting while driving. With the bill passing in the Senate on a 28 to 11 vote earlier today, Barker and his senate colleagues are taking a step towards bringing Virginia up to date with the rest of the country. With crossover weekend rapidly approaching, the bill will have to be passed by the House of Delegates before it heads to the governor's desk.

That is where the bill will face a big challenge, however, because the House of Delegates just doesn't seem to want to allow this dangerous activity to be a primary offense. Last year, for instance, a similar bill introduced by Del. David Bulova (HB 212) died in committee and the same thing happened to one introduced by Del. Lionell Spruill (HB 1489) this year. In other words, this appears to be yet another example of how the GOP controlled House of Delegates is killing legislation that's in the best interest of the Virginia people.

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