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Set of bills could prevent distracted driving

Emailing and texting while driving are both against the law in Virginia. Even with those laws on the books, 14,700 people were injured in distracted driving crashes and 175 died in 2016. This has led lawmakers to initiate a bicameral, bipartisan effort to curb distracted driving and make the streets a bit safer.

HB 1834 sets to make the current law even stronger by forbidding a driver from being able to manually select multiple characters or icons. This bill would make it illegal for a driver to watch videos, check social media websites and do a host of other activities on their phone.

The bill also makes it against the law for drivers to use their phones when the vehicle is stopped, which is different from the current law that only forbids emailing and texting while the vehicle is in motion. Drivers would be able to use the phone when the vehicle is legally parked.

This bill even takes the stronger law to another level. It adds an offense to the Code of Virginia, which is appropriately called distracted driving, to help enforce the seriousness of the issue.

Another bill, SB 1339, seeks to make it a criminal matter if a distracted driver causes serious injuries to a bicyclist or pedestrian. The person can have his or her license suspended and he or she would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

These bills come a little too late for some people who have already been struck by a distracted driver. For those individuals, as well as those who are injured by a distracted driver if these bills are enacted, seeking compensation is one way to try to reduce the financial damage caused by the accident.

Source: WTOP, "Virginia legislators seek to curb distracted driving," Jan. 25, 2017

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