Last August a woman pushing a baby stroller in a crosswalk in Loudon County was struck by an SUV. Her 5-month-old baby was killed. A witness to the accident told police that the driver of the SUV was holding cellphone in his left hand when he struck the mother and her child.
That accident, says Sen. Scott Surovell, a Democrat who represents parts of Fairfax, Stafford and Prince William Counties, is what’s prompted him to put a bill in the hopper in Richmond that would prohibit using a cell phone while driving, unless it’s a hands-free device. That means you’d need to use a Bluetooth earphone or speaker and a microphone to talk on that phone. Not only that…the phone would need to be “physically mounted” in the car.
The same goes for using GPS. The bill would make it illegal to use that mapping service unless the phone was mounted.
A $125 fine is proposed of a first offense, $250 if the offense is a repeat.
Surovell recently told the Fredericksburg Freelance Star that he spends a lot of time traveling on Interstate 95 and frequently sees motorists “staring at the phones in their hands.” Put simply, he said, “hands-free needs to be the law.” His bill is expected to be considered the legislature begins its new session in mid-January.
Fourteen states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands already have hands-free cell phone laws.