A statewide ban on texting on cell phones goes into effect Wednesday — July 1.
The law is long overdue but it fails to go far enough and will be difficult to enforce because the driver must be doing something else illegal or stupid before a cop can pull them over.
In other words, texting while driving is illegal, but you can’t get a ticket for it unless you are breaking at least one other law.
As Forest Gump would say: "Stupid is as stupid does."
Message to drivers who text or e-mail on the road: put the phone down or pay up.
Virginia will join 13 other states and the District of Columbia that have banned texting while driving when the new law and hundreds of others legislators passed this winter take effect Wednesday.
Safe driving advocates said texting or e-mailing while driving significantly increases the chances of getting into a wreck.
Del. John A. Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake and the bill’s sponsor, cited a crash in Florida this spring when the driver of a tractor-trailer hit a school bus while text messaging his wife, killing one student and injuring several others.
“There is no message other than ‘I’m in serious, serious jeopardy’ that is worth that type of risk,” he said.
Those who text or e-mail while driving can receive a $20 fine or $50 for a second offense, but drivers can only receive a citation if they were pulled over for another offense. The law makes an exception for emergency responders such as paramedics or police officers, or those reporting an emergency.
A law that says a driver has to be doing something else illegal before a cop can hit the blue lights and pull the texting idiot over is as stupid a limitation as Virginia’s law which says a cop can’t pull someone over for not using a seat belt only if they are breaking another law.
Another typical loophole from Virginia’s brain-dead General Assembly. It’s too bad the loons in Richmond didn’t have the balls to pass an outright ban on cell phone usage while driving. A woman holding a cell phone to her ear with her shoulder so she could light a cigarette while driving pulled out in front of me on U.S. 221 Sunday. I had to hit my brakes and swerve my motorcycle into the oncoming lane to avoid hitting her. Fortunately, there was no traffic in that lane.
Is texting dangerous? Damn right is is. Consider this press release from a law firm in Texas:
In San Antonio, a public bus driver sending text messages on his phone plowed the 12-ton vehicle he was driving into the back of a stopped SUV. After an accident injuring dozens of people, a Boston trolley driver admitted he was texting his girlfriend when the crash occurred. In California, a commuter train engineer was sending and receiving text messages moments before a head-on collision with a freight train killed 25 people and injured 135 more.
As tragedies involving public transit and text-messaging drivers add up, so does the research indicating that more and more people are using their cell phones to send text messages while driving.
New research shows 26 percent of cell phone users nationwide send text messages while they’re behind the wheel (28 percent of Texas drivers admit to using their cell phones while driving). Almost 60 percent of teenage drivers admit to driving while texting (DWT) and 49 percent of those between 20 and 29 admit to DWT.
(Photo courtesy of The Associated Press. I’m not crazy enough to ride in a car with someone texting while driving, even for a photo op. My mama drowned the dumb ones.)