WIth a new year comes a new Virginia state law requiring phone calls behind the wheel to be hands-free.
Welcome, 2021! A new year tends to bring with it the promise of a fresh start, an opportunity to reflect, and this year a few new Virginia state laws, one in particular that we want to be sure you’re aware of: a ban on holding a cellphone while you’re behind the wheel. We’re pretty excited about this new law, because it helps make roads a whole lot safer from distracted drivers potentially causing car accidents.
We’ve long known that talking on the phone while driving increases the risk of a car crash, and now law enforcement can pull people over if they have their phone to their ear instead of having both hands on the wheel. The law states that it’s still ok to have a phone conversation while driving, but that the call must be hands-free. If you’re pulled over for driving with your phone in your hand, law enforcement will issue a $150 ticket. If you’re caught doing it a second time it will cost you $250. And if you are in a highway work zone and you break the hands-free law, it’s a mandatory $250 fine. If you ever needed extra incentive to put your cell phone down while you’re driving, just think about how expensive one of these illegal phone calls could be!
In fact, it’s always best to either pull to a safe spot off of the roadway, or even better wait until you’re home, to use your phone. Studies show that even hands-free phone conversations can be dangerously distracting. In 2018, 2,841 people were killed as a result of distracted driving, and a whopping 4000,000 people were injured in accidents that involved a distracted driver. And while talking on the phone is just one of a number of distracted-driving behaviors, it’s a big one. Having a phone conversation while driving — even a hands-free one — can reduce a driver’s response time as much as driving drunk! So while it’s tempting to use your commute time to catch up with an old friend or check in with a colleague, it really is best to wait until you aren’t behind the wheel to make those calls. But if you do decide to chat while driving, be sure it’s a hands-free phone call.