Texting-While-Driving Laws May Become Tougher

Lynchburg, VA - It looks like Virginia could soon see tougher texting while driving laws. Right now, the Virginia State Crime commission is considering proposed legislation on the issue.

Lynchburg Police would welcome stricter rules. According to Officer Ronnie Sitler, fatalities have increased 600% in the city of Lynchburg this year alone. It is not known if all of those were distracted driving cases. Officials say the state needs to make texting-while-driving laws catch up to the current technology. 15 years ago, we did not text and most people did not have cell phones. Now, people can do almost anything on them; GPS, texting, talking, email, you name it. Lynchburg police say they would like to see texting-while-driving become a primary offense. The way the law stands right now, it is a secondary offense, meaning, police can only ticket someone if they are pulled over for something else.

"The fatality rate in the state of Virginia this year has gone up for the first time in several years which means people are out here driving and unfortunately being killed or seriously injured," said Officer Ronnie Sitler, LPD.

Not everyone seems to feel this way, however. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says three out of every four states that have enacted a ban on texting while driving have seen crashes actually go up rather than down, possibly because drivers try to keep their texting hidden.

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, commission staff have suggested classifying texting while driving as reckless driving, and increasing the penalty for traffic offenses for those who are texting.