The Dangers of Texting While Driving
Some of you remember when there was no such thing as “texting and driving” because there was also no such thing as texting. Those days are long gone. Some young drivers have never known a day when texting did not exist. Before “texting and driving” was a concern, “drinking and driving” was the primary worry.
While both are always something to avoid, the new big problem is texting and driving. Here is a statistic to back that up: In the summer of 2013, Auto Safety reported that 3,000 teens die each year of texting and driving while 2,700 per year die of drinking and driving.
Last year, the Huffington Post put together some very interesting numbers on texting and driving. Using a cell phone increases the chances of a car crash fourfold. Interestingly, the article also says that teenagers are not the worst offenders; 21-24 year-olds are the main offenders.
A simple web search of “texting and driving” will yield a number of edgy websites geared toward younger drivers. They all warn them not to text and drive because of how dangerous it can be. It does not stop there. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject. Because the distraction comes from mobile devices, even the Federal Communications Commission has spoken up with the latest statistics available.
The telltale sign, however, that texting and driving has arrived is that the term has its own Wikipedia page with an actual definition: “…the act of composing, sending, reading text messages, email, or making similar use of the web on a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle”.
The purpose of this post is not to defend the practice of texting and driving, but a neutral observer has to admit that the definition above is pretty broad. While there are no national laws regarding texting and driving, many states have enacted legislation, including the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Virginia’s Approach to Texting and Driving:
In 2013, Virginia passed its first texting and driving law. Upon reading, it seems pretty straightforward. You are not allowed to type any communication to another person or read any communication on your phone while driving (but you are allowed to text and/or read when your vehicle is stopped or parked). If you are convicted of a first offense, you will receive a $125 fine. Subsequent offenses will result in $250 fines.
This law did not impress everyone. The opening sentence in one Washington Post column said, “Virginia’s desire to get tough on drivers who text is more bark than bite, because drivers willing to lie are most likely to escape the new $125 fine.” The article goes on to point out that the law is very specific. It does not prevent you from using the GPS on your phone or from actually using your hands to, you know, make phone calls.
In other words, the only thing you can’t do is type out words to send to another person. That’s what frustrated so many about the Virginia law when it was passed three years ago. It’s also why the Washington Post writer said that a lying person can possibly get away with texting and driving when pulled over by police.
Despite these concerns, the law also made texting and driving a primary offense, which means that police officers can pull you over just for seeing you active on your phone. That is exactly what is happening. Late last year, a Richmond news affiliate noted that texting while driving convictions have quadrupled over the last few years. In the fiscal year 2015 alone, there were around 1,700 convictions.
Texting while driving is dangerous. It is also avoidable. If you are facing a possible conviction for this offense, you need legal advice. Call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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