There’s a big push in the Virginia legislature this year to curb distracted driving, and it made some progress this week.
A bill championed by Loudoun County Del. Tag Greason (R-32) aimed at raising awareness about the often deadly consequences of distracted driving passed in the House of Delegates on Tuesday. House Bill 1763 establishes a specialized license plate that reminds drivers to stay off their phones when they’re behind the wheel.
Greason said he drafted the legislation following a string of “horrific accidents caused by distracted driving” last year. The public high schools in Loudoun will hold a competition to determine the license plate’s design. The delegate said that will also be an opportunity to get young people engaged in solving the problem. “Holding an open competition for the plate’s artwork empowers our youngest drivers to hold us all accountable to put down our phones when behind the wheel,” he added.
The legislation is part of a package of three bills aimed at keeping people safer on the roads. HB1834, introduced by Del. Rich Anderson (R-51), closes a loophole in state code to prohibit drivers from using mobile applications such as Facebook, Twitter and games, while still allowing them to use GPS navigation. HB1606, drafted by Del. Ron Villanueva (R-21), would strengthen penalties for those found to be driving distracted in marked highway work zones.
HB1834 has been assigned to the Committee on Courts of Justice, and HB 1606 was introduced on the House floor Monday but was passed by for the day.