As the Associated Press reports, the Senate has passed HB1907, making texting while driving a primary offense, and increasing penalties for doing so. Now passed by both houses, the bill awaits Gov. McDonnell’s signature to become law.
Currently, texting is a secondary offense — drivers can be cited only while stopped for something else. Fines are only $20 for a first offense, $50 for subsequent offenses. The new law would raise fines to $250 and $500 respectively. Additionally, drivers convicted of reckless driving would face a $500 fine if they were texting at the time of the offense.
A 2009 Virginia Tech study showed that texting drivers were up to 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision.
HB1907 has received little press coverage or fanfare. Note the above report is from the AP, not local or regional press. Have mobile phone companies — with their tremendous advertising budgets — been effective in keeping things quiet? Or are Virginians too involved with their mobile phones to be interested in this crusade?