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Virginia Imposes New Penalties for Texting While Driving in a Work Zone

Using a cellphone or any other handheld communication device to read or type messages while driving in a highway work zone can cost a Virginia motorist twice what it once did. With the passage in July 2018 of HB 1525, the Virginia Texting in a Work Zone law, the Virginia General Assembly increased the penalties for drivers found to be texting or emailing in a zone where highway workers are present. Those drivers now face a mandatory $250 fine — double the previous penalty. Outside of a highway work zone, the fine is $125 for a first-time offense and $250 for a subsequent offense.

The widespread use of handheld devices puts drivers, workers, pedestrians and bicyclists at risk. Studies have shown that texting while driving — a common reason for distracted driving — can multiply the likelihood of a car crash. In 2013, AAA released a report stating that a staggering 80 percent of Virginia traffic accidents were related to distracted driving. More recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that nine people die and another 1,000 are injured every day in distracted driving accidents across the United States.

Because vehicles are often in close proximity to workers while traveling in work zones, even a brief moment of distracted driving can be fatal. The force of a collision may throw a victim through the air and cause them to land on their spine, putting them at risk for paralysis or death.  Even if a worker survives being hit by a car moving at the imposed speed limit, he or she may sustain serious and life-altering injuries, from broken bones to internal damage and head trauma.

The new law makes exceptions for people who use their phones to report an emergency and does not apply to drivers using a factory-installed or separate GPS system. Emergency vehicle operators are also exempt from the law when they are engaged in the performance of their official duties.

If you were injured by a distracted driver in North Carolina, South Carolina, or Virginia, the attorneys at Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban can help you seek compensation to cover your medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost income and other expenses.  Call (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. We have offices conveniently located throughout the southeastern United States.

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