Virginia recently passed a new measure designed to curb the ongoing problem of distracted driving. As opposed to the current law, which critics have described as difficult to effectively enforce, the new measure flat out bans people from holding their cellular phones, as well as other types of technology, while their vehicle is in motion. The new measure does give motorists a little leeway to check phones while stopped at a traffic light or to look at a screen, so long as they are not holding the screen in their hand while they drive.
While proponents of this measure say such laws are statistically proven to prevent people from holding their phones while driving, other analyses suggest that the law might not be enough to curb the broader problem of general in-car distractions. For instance, there has been no conclusive proof that these laws actually reduce the number of car accidents. It could be that Virginians are engaging in distracted driving, but they are doing so without holding their phones.
A recent survey of 12,000 drivers in Northern Virginia confirmed this point. Between 2014 and 2018, the rate of distracted drivers held steady at 23 percent. While comparing the two studies showed that fewer motorists were holding their phones, more were seen fingering their phones in some manner, perhaps with the aid of a device that holds the phone in place near the car’s dashboard.
The bottom line is that it looks like Virginia’s distracted driving problem is not going anywhere for the time being. Although the recent law is certainly a positive development, a Blacksburg resident’s best option may be to seek compensation from a distracted driver should that driver injure them.