As expected, Senator Norment’s SB517 banning cell phone usage by motor vehicle drivers, except in hands free mode, was tabled by the Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee 2 by a 2 -1 vote. Athey & Cline for tabling; Shuler opposed; Cleaveland & Gilbert absent. After the vote was taken, Athey remarked to the Patron, “maybe next year” to which Sen. Norment replied, “see you then.”
Several seat belt bills, including Senator Blevins’ SB9, which would make failure to have the seat belt buckled a primary, rather than secondary offense, were similarly tabled with only Delegate Shuler from Blacksburg (the lone Democrat on the sub committee) voting against tabling (for the bill). The committee voted this way despite testimony from DMV that such a law in effect by Sept. 1 of this year, would make the state eligible for $16.5 million of federal Highway Safety funds.
I believe that closes out the VBF legislative agenda for this session, although John Saunders of DMV stated after the meeting that he was looking forward to working with me to improve the bicycling safety message in DMV’s motor vehicle driver’s materials and to include a question or two on the driver’s exam.