- Top federal judge uses pizza to explain complex Obamacare situation
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Drought-plagued Californians turn to paint to keep lawns green
- ISIL now forcing Iraqi shopkeepers to veil mannequins in Mosul
- 11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die
- Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia
- Turkish P.M. Erdogan won’t speak to Obama, but he’ll take calls from Biden
- Israel’s ambassador praises Obama, slams Human Rights Watch report
- Md. parents accused of locking up autistic twin sons
- Dancing Kim Jong-un video sparks North Korea fury
Texting while driving is being studied for more serious penalty in Va.
Question of the Day
Virginia’s State Crime Commission is considering a proposal that would strengthen the state’s texting-while-driving laws to be in line with those across the country, a move applauded by lawmakers who have backed similar legislation but seen by some as a gesture that is too little too late.
More than a year after his teenage son Kyle was killed by a car driven by a man reading a message on his phone, Carl Rowley said he is glad the issue is getting traction, but “it’s not doing anything for Kyle.”
In May 2011, the 19-year-old was pushing his stalled car off the road on Route 7 in Fairfax when Jason Gage plowed into the back of Rowley’s car. A judge dismissed Mr. Gage’s reckless driving charges because texting while driving is considered a secondary offense in Virginia, with a fine as low as $20.
Though he recognized that the judge’s decision was made to “drive the point home” about the discrepancies among reckless driving charges in Virginia, Mr. Rowley said, “the guy never looked. He ran right into him.
“This is something for people down the road,” Mr. Rowley said of the proposal to strengthen the law. “This doesn’t happen often, but it happens.”
Officials said these kinds of crashes happen often enough to warrant a change in how states and drivers handle behavior behind the wheel.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records show that in 2010 about 9 percent of the nearly 33,000 highway fatalities were “distraction affected.” The administration’s website about distracted driving, Distraction.gov, states that more than 400,000 injuries in car crashes were the result of distracted driving. According to the agency, drivers are 23 times more likely to crash while they text.
Virginia Delegate Scott Surovell, a Fairfax Democrat who also represented the Rowleys in civil court, explained that in the past, texting was “not as much on people’s radar screen. It was more abstract.”
“What happened to Kyle Rowley was a real wake-up call,” he added, “not only what happened legally, but also his death was extremely tragic and unnecessary.”
In fact, according to the crime commission’s proposal, Kyle Rowley’s death — though his name was omitted — was one of the reasons it is being considered.
Delegate Robert B. Bell, the Albemarle Republican who is the crime commission chairman, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the judge’s ruling in the Rowley case was puzzling.
“If that’s something that’s happening in the court, we need to make sure texting is covered under reckless driving,” he said.
Among the states that neighbor Virginia, Maryland has one of the harshest penalties for texting while driving. In the Free State, texting behind the wheel of a moving vehicle is considered a primary offense, meaning police officers can pull over a driver if they are doing it. It also carries a $500 fine.
The District, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee also consider texting while driving a primary offense. Those states slap fines on offenders ranging between $50 and $300.
A number of Virginia legislators in the past have attempted to label texting while driving a primary offense.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Meredith Somers is a Metro reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Humanists seek support from Congress on military chaplains
- Islamic State's threats on Christians used to win support of Muslims
- Higher Ground: Urban Outfitters in hot water over deity duvet
- U.S. firefighters, emergency responders volunteer to help in Israel
- Church of England allows female bishops
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- Obamacare dealt massive setback by federal appeals court
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- LYONS: Small-arms treaty, big Second Amendment threat
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- Obama family set to buy $4.25M desert home in California: report
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq