Change The Radio Station, Get a Ticket?

That’s what one proposed piece of legislation in this year’s General Assembly would accomplish. From the Free Lance-Star:

Usually the legislature sees bills focusing on limits to texting while driving, or talking on the cell phone while driving.

But “texting, putting on makeup, snarfing down a cheeseburger, whatever” while driving can all be dangerous, Orrock said. He said he even saw a man driving down Route 1 using an iPad. Some people should definitely invest in something like florida driver’s Ed courses online to remind themselves how important it is to be fully focused when you’re driving; not many people recognize the potential destruction they could cause for themselves and others. It’s particularly important to understand the dangers if you’re a fleet truck driver, as your vehicle is bigger than the majority on the roads and can, therefore, cause more damage. Luckily, many employers of fleet drivers are preventing distracted driving to protect their drivers and vehicles on the roads using industry-leading equipment.

“They’re clearly engaging in a dangerous activity,” Orrock said of such drivers.

But such distracted driving isn’t currently illegal as a primary offense, he said.

OK OK… goofing off with an iPad is bad news. But eating a cheeseburger? Really?

Orrock wants to give police the tools to stop such drivers before they cause accidents.

“My intention is to create a new driving offense … so law enforcement will at least have the authority to pull someone over,” Orrock said. “I think this is a tool that they need to assist in that end. We know distracted driving leads to accidents.”

The language of Orrock’s bill outlaws driving a vehicle “while engaged in an activity that is not necessary to the operation of the vehicle and that actually impairs his ability to operate the vehicle is guilty of a traffic infraction.”

Let’s put this one in plain English, folks. Changing the radio station now becomes a primary offense in Virginia. Heck — setting your cruise control in your vehicle is a primary offense under this legislation. Glancing at a map? That’s a primary offense now too. Maybe even looking at your satnav that is build into the great new car you have because you’ve had a good car loan quote through someone similar to Money Expert, is illegal
If you’re thinking these laws affecting you in Virginia are mightily over the top, and you want to hire the help of a lawyer, this Virginia based traffic ticket lawyer could be a good starting bet if you ever find yourself having to make a claim.

Now granted, Orrock isn’t entirely incorrect. In an era of iPhones and portable electronic devices, using Google Maps to get your way around is natural. The temptation to text or type in an address while on the move is sometimes irresistible, and as an EMS responder, Orrock has probably seen his fair share of accidents where someone got into a wreck that never should have happened.

It’s still bad legislation — banning cheeseburgers and all that — yet it’s a great conversation to have as Virginia’s laws are constantly refined to catch up with technology.

(crossposted to Bearing Drift)

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