People who choose to drive drunk, exceed the speed limit, make rash lane changes or drive when tired put themselves and others at unnecessary risks.
The same holds true for drivers who refuse to put down their mobile phones or other handheld electronic devices while behind the wheel.
Virginia set to enforce new distracted driving law
In the summer of 2020, a ban on handheld use of cellphones while driving went into effect. As explained by the Augusta Free Press, citations for violating this ban may result starting January 1, 2021. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles indicates more than 23,000 vehicle accidents statewide in 2019 involved distracted driving. Of those crashes, 120 resulted in fatalities.
North Carolina’s existing distracted driving law
According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, a ban on handheld use of phones while driving already exists in the Tar Heel state. Drivers 18 and older may not text while operating a vehicle and drivers aged 16 or 17 may not use a phone at all while driving.
Traffic fatalities over a five-year period
Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show a dangerous trend in both North Carolina and Virginia. In 2014, 1,284 people died in motor vehicle accidents in North Carolina. Virginia lost 703 people in crashes that same year. In 2018, North Carolina recorded 1,437 vehicular fatalities while Virginia experienced 820 deaths in automobile crashes.
North Carolina’s fatalities increased in 2015 and 2016 before dropping slightly to 1,412 in 2017 only to increase again the next year. In Virginia, fatalities increased every year through 2017 to 839 before dipping in 2018.