Liz Kirchner

Like many civic organizations throughout the state this winter, the New River Valley Bicycling Association, a group of about 300 local cyclists, are participating in the legislation of Virginia law during the 2019 General Assembly. By banding together they are supporting a house bill and its companion senate bill that aim to reduce cell phone use and the distracted driving that goes with it.

In a 14-3 vote, with amendments, the bill heads to the full House this week.

As the House bill reads, the law, “expands the prohibition on using a handheld personal communications device while operating a motor vehicle to all uses unless the device is specifically designed to allow hands-free and voice operation and the device is being used in that manner.”

Currently, Virginia law only prohibits reading and typing email or texts.

The NRVBA Programs Coordinator Jen Million is pleased, but not surprised to see the legislation moving forward.

“I am from West Virginia,” she said in an email, “and WV has had hands-free laws in place since 2013. Within the first year of implementation, the hands-free law was credited with an 18 percent decrease in roadway fatalities.”

The association doesn’t have an official statement, but Million holds that “it just makes sense that we ensure a person’s focus is entirely on the road when operating a 4,000lb machine, for the safety of everyone on the road, and the drivers themselves.”

Nine people are…

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