Most conscientious drivers agree that distracted driving results in serious accidents that injure and kill scores of people. To combat this dangerous activity, Virginia enacted a hands-free driving law that took effect on January 1, 2021.
A wider look at distracted driving shows this pervasive threat to road safety remains a danger throughout the U.S.
The popularity of mobile devices
The National Conference of State Legislatures labels distracted driving as a public health and safety issue. The prevalence of mobile devices makes the issue a difficult one to combat. Some estimates put subscribers to wireless services at 220 million Americans, with a high percentage of these subscribers using their phones while driving.
A recent look at state laws reveals that more than 24 states and U.S. territories ban all drivers from using hand-held cell phones. A higher number of states, 36 in total plus Washington D.C., prohibit all cellphone use for teen drivers, while a total of 18 states and D.C. ban cellphone usage for school bus drivers.
The numbers on distracted driving
At any moment during daylight hours, roughly 800,000 people operate a motor vehicle in the U.S. using a mobile device. One study showed that teen drivers particularly engage in distracted driving with cell phones or other electronic devices.
State laws have become even more aggressive with text messaging bans. Several U.S. territories and 48 states ban this activity for all drivers, while Missouri bans text messaging for drivers 21 years of age and younger.
Little information has yet to come out concerning the effectiveness of Virginia’s hands-free driving law. The state issues fines for violations of the law.