New statistics have recently been released describing the texting while driving numbers following the first six months of a new Virginia law that made the act a primary offense. The early totals show that Virginia motorists were involved in 725 total convictions during the latter half of 2013.
Beginning in 2013, the practice of texting-and-driving became a primary offense, meaning that police could now pull over any motorist seen texting behind the wheel. Prior to 2013, a driver had to also be committing another separate offense in order to be fined for also texting.
The enacted law was put in place to emphasize the dangers of texting and driving, and was part of an initiative to educate the public about the risks of distracted driving. The belief is that education and enforcement are both needed to affect change.
The first six months of the Virginia law, which went into effect on July 1, 2013, showed that a majority of the convictions occurred throughout northern Virginia and the heavily populated Hampton Roads area; both are areas which see large amounts of traffic regularly.
Areas like Fairfax County and Virginia Beach saw some of the highest conviction rates, while even rural counties saw single digit offense stats.
AAA auto club recently polled 800 registered voters to see if the law is having the intended response that lobbyists and authorities are hoping for. Nearly one-fourth reported to eliminating the practice of texting-and-driving entirely, or significantly reduced the habit since the law went into effect.
Approximately 60 percent of younger drivers—those between ages 16 and 19—are reported to text while driving. This practice drastically increases the risk of getting into a car accident. This age group is the found to be the greatest offenders.
The hope is that the increased fine of $125 for a first offense will prove to be a motivating factor to encourage these young drivers to eliminate the practice.
What do you think about the new Virginia law about texting while driving? We’d like to hear from you. Please give us your thoughts on Facebook. If you have any questions about distracted driving, car accidents, and victims’ legal rights, please contact our law offices today. We can give you the answers you need.