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Look Ma, no hands

…on the cell phone anyway, if the Virginia Senate gets its way.

If you’ve ever been out on the road and seen a car come at you driven by (1) a distracted teenager or (2) a distracted mom in a minvan or (3) a distracted salesman-looking guy, all of whom are yacking animatedly with a cell phone in one hand and the other on the wheel (maybe), here’s an item for you.

I personally have run across all three of these individuals at one time or another; fortunately, none of the three ran across, or into, me. Good thing one of us was watching the road.

The Associated Press is reporting that yesterday the Senate passed a bill to ban talking on a cell phone while driving unless using a hands-free device.

Senate Bill 517, patroned by Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg, passed on a 25-15 vote Monday.

It would set phased-in penalties for drivers who take their hands off the wheel to hold a cell phone. Beginning July 1, the fine for yacking on a phone that’s not hands-free would be 20 bucks for the first violation, jacked to $50 for each infraction after that. The following year, the fine levels would be $100 and $200.

The ban would not apply to the operators of emergency vehicles, drivers who are stopped or parked, GPS or other digital dispatch systems like OnStar or anyone using a phone to report an emergency.

Chances for final passage? Maybe not so good. Since at least 2004, some senator or delegate has proposed this type of hands-free bill, and usually, they got tanked or sent to the Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety (i.e., legislative Siberia). Still, last year the Assembly passed a no-texting-while-driving law, so keep your fingers crossed. And both hands on the wheel.

One comment

  1. There needs to be stiffer penalties for these types of violations. These violations are no different than Virginia reckless driving violations

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