Hands-off messaging

Brent Finnegan -- June 29th, 2009

Harrisonburg police recently sent out a notice reminding residents that the new Virginia law banning text messaging while driving goes into effect this Wednesday.

More on the new ban from Fredericksburg.com

Virginia is one of 14 states to ban text messaging while driving, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A handful of other states have banned text messaging for drivers under 18 and school bus drivers.

Using a hand-held cell phone to make calls while driving is still allowed for drivers over age 18, but typing text or reading text messages or e-mails will be forbidden while operating a moving vehicle.

The bill prohibiting this type of multitasking passed General Assembly earlier this year.

Prohibits operation of a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth while using any handheld personal communications device to manually enter multiple letters or text or to read a text message. This bill provides exemptions for using global positioning systems (GPS), reading caller identification information, and using a wireless telecommunications device to report an emergency. The provisions of this bill do not apply to operators of emergency vehicles.

The fine for getting caught texting while driving is $20 the first time. Second-time offenders will get slapped with a $50 fine.

27 Responses to “Hands-off messaging”

  1. But you have to be stopped for another reason to incur the fine…which makes me wonder, who gets pulled over and continues to text while the cop is walking toward them?

  2. That’s a good question. I’d be interested to hear Del. Cosgrove’s answer.

  3. Ron says:

    Another minor infringement/law when the big ones go unguarded. Great.

  4. rachel says:

    I find it amusing that driving while texting is banned… not the other way around. Next time you’re sending a text message, be careful that you don’t suddenly start operating a motor vehicle. :)

  5. Delataire says:

    I wonder what the woman I saw today, who held a book above the steering wheel while reading it would be charged with?

  6. Renee says:

    What about putting your phone in camera mode and holding it out the window with your finger on the shutter button while driving past something and trying to get a shot of it without having to stop?

    (guilty – but I slowed down so no cars were near me at the time)

    I agree that texting while driving is really dangerous – I have texted behind the wheel before but it was at a stoplight – I’m just not sure how they’re going to effectively enforce & prosecute it, unless they get a photo of the person with thumb-on-keypad.

    I think some people are good at driving while talking on cell phones, while others suck. We should implement something like this to regulate each other so when I’m behind someone going 28 in a 35 zone and swerving and notice they’re on a cell phone, I can dock them a point :)

  7. Emmy says:

    Not to mention how are they going to tell if you were reading a message? Generally you have to look at your phone while answering it, so you could be reading a text or answering it and how could they tell?

    I agree that texting while driving is not a good idea, but this just seems like it’s going to be very hard to actually enforce.

  8. Laura says:

    I can barely text with both hands free and 100% of my attention concentrated on it…

  9. cook says:

    Seems to me that the real evil here is reckless driving. We ought to pass a law prohibiting reckless driving.

  10. JGFitzgerald says:

    Probably not a simple yes or no answer but … Is it better to have a symbolic law to remind people that a practice is dangerous, or is it worse to have an unenforceable law that runs the risk of reducing respect for laws in general?

  11. seth says:

    that is to say,
    click-it or ticket seems to be pretty effective.
    in terms of unenforceable/ill conceived laws reducing respect for laws in general, i think we’d do better to set our sights elsewhere.

  12. Renee says:

    I think it’s a good law to pass, they just need to write it in a way that it can be enforced.

  13. mikekeane says:

    Regulate banks and multinationals – not texts! I’m all for being safe but I hate to see all these little laws boxing us in and giving cops yet another reason to bully drivers.

  14. Crystal says:

    I occasionally read emails while stopped at a light – not while driving. Is this now banned even though you’d technically be stopped?

  15. Crystal says:

    Of course, the fine is so small that I think most people will ignore this altogether.

  16. cook says:

    Crystal, texting while “lawfully stopped” is not prohibited. Not yet.

  17. Bubby Hussein, Hillbilly Sheikh says:

    It will be enforced by civil and criminal convictions. You text and crash, causing property damage and injury it will be grounds for proving willful negligence. You will be subject to suit or prosecution. Your insurance provider will hit you up or drop you. If you own anything, a good lawyer may righteously take it from you to pay restitution. Then, when you go looking for a job your driving practices will paint you as a reckless fool and an employee liability.

    Your phone records are easily accessible and they can be matched to crash records. The police will simply document the time frames and possession of the phone. The legal process will take care of the rest.

    Ask Mary Bowen, she got 2 years for doubling down on stupid – drinking and texting.

  18. Bill says:

    Our vehicles have become too comfortable and too full of toys to be safe. DVD players, XM and Sirus, cell phones, etc. It’s a wonder I haven’t rear ended someone while driving and paying more attention to one of my “toys”. The gov’t should crack down on unattentive driving and drivers. A vehiclke moving at any speed with a driver that is distracted while screwing around with some electronic device is as dangerous as a loaded gun pointed at someone. Sooner or later you’re gonna hit some innocent person because you were not paying attention. Many of us are guilty.(me included)

  19. It constantly amazes me that people will load into a 2 – 3 ton vehicle, run it up to over a mile/minute velocity and begin reading text or holding a phone to their ear. Many of these same people will tell you how dangerous it is to have a gun in the home.

  20. bill says:

    Cars should be built with cell phone jamming devices that can’t be turned off.

  21. David Miller says:

    Yeah we should really save ourselves from ourselves. Like making guns that don’t fire

  22. What about sharp knives? We don’t want anyone accidentally stabbing themselves… Come to think of it, we should probably replace forks with sporks, too.

    But seriously, what about hands-free devices? Blue tooth earpieces are expensive, but I’ve bought a wired earpiece for less than $10. Of course, I’m not claiming that I always use it — when it rings, I don’t have time to plug it in — but using it to make calls is better than talk of jamming signals altogether. Some states actually require hands-free sets when behind the wheel.

  23. Delataire says:

    Instead of passing laws/doing things that punish everyone, why not hold people responsible for their actions?

  24. David Miller says:

    It’s called reckless driving, it’s already on the books. Matter settled.

  25. Ron says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with David Miller who precedes me here. It is already a crime for reckless driving. Why create another law that has little effect? That’s one of the problems with this country. Too many laws and we create new ones all the time and none of the ones already there are properly enforced.

    If a person is weaving whether due to texting or adjusting the radio volume get them for that.

    Too simple I guess.

  26. bill says:

    I had a kid crash into the back of my car because she wasn’t looking when I stopped for a school bus coming from the other direction. The point is, mistakes made by people who might be a little bothered by having to wait to return or make a call can be a matter of life or death for others. Go ahead and stab yourself all you want. Just don’t throw the thing in my direction.

  27. Josh says:

    According to JMU’s student newspaper:

    One Texting Ticket So Far in Harrisonburg : The Breeze

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