Starting this year, Virginia has expanded its cell phone law to make it illegal to even hold a cell phone while driving. The new law actually went into effect July 2020, but lawmakers gave Virginians time to adjust and enforcement began on Jan. 1, 2021.
The first time you’re caught, the fine is $125, and the second fine is $250. If you’re in a highway work zone while holding a cell phone, that’s a mandatory $250 fine.
Law enforcement officers no longer have to prove you were using a mobile device to email or text while driving. It’s now a primary offense, and they can pull you over for simply having your phone in your hand.
WHY THE LAW IS NECESSARY
Using your phone takes your attention away from operating your vehicle. Types of distracted driving are categorized as:
- Visual, which is taking your eyes off the road
- Manual, which is taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive, which is taking your mind off driving
Texting can distract you in all three ways and it’s dangerous. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
In 2018 alone, more than 2,800 people were killed and about 400,000 were hurt in U.S. crashes involving a distracted driver. About 1 in 5 of those killed weren’t even in a vehicle – they were pedestrians or bicyclists, or otherwise outside of a vehicle.
There are some exceptions to the new law. You can legally use your phone if you are:
- Reporting an emergency
- Legally parked or stopped
- Operating an emergency vehicle as part of your official duties
- Using an amateur or citizens band radio
- Driving a Department of Transportation vehicle while performing traffic incident management services
You can still talk on your phone, you just can’t hold it. The Fairfax County Police Department suggests these options if you need to make a call:
- Use a Bluetooth earpiece for hands free talking
- If you choose to use headphones, you can only have one ear bud in while driving
- Connect your phone to your vehicle through Bluetooth
- Have a passenger answer your calls via speakerphone so you can talk hands free
- Use a cell phone mount to hold your phone
Mister Kleen is committed to the safety of its employees and the community. If any team member has any questions about the new law or the company policy, you are encouraged to contact your supervisor.
Mister Kleen is a leading provider of contract cleaning services to Commercial and High Security facilities since 1976. Our primary service area is the DC Metro region. We also provide a variety of interior and exterior specialty services, including Disinfection services.