RICHMOND, Va. (WVEC) -- Dealing with drivers who pay attention to their phone more than the road is frustrating for many – but a Virginia lawmaker is trying to change that.
29th District Delegate Chris Collins (R) introduced the bill that would make it a traffic violation if drivers are on their phones and are “substantially diverting their attention."
“It is absolutely a public safety issue,” said Collins. “The CDC estimates there are nine deaths per day from distracted driving.”
Current law claims it’s illegal for drivers to send a text message or email while driving, but drivers can technically do anything else on their phone. Norfolk Sheriff Joe Baron said because of the law's specificity, it makes it difficult for officers to enforce the law.
“[It's difficult for law enforcement officers] to know whether or not you’re texting or doing an email versus doing a phone call,” said Baron.
However, critics of the bill say it’s too broad. It’s at the discretion of officers to decide if a driver’s phone is “substantially diverting their attention.” Some argue it would allow officers to abuse that power with members of the community.
The bill passed the House with a 50 – 49 vote. It is scheduled to go before the Senate floor, Friday.