June 29, 2007
Starting this Sunday, drivers in the Commonwealth younger than 18-years old, will face fines for using their cell phones behind the wheel. But for some, the rules might be hard to follow.
"My parents are pretty strict about what are you doing, where are you going, when are you doing," explained Nick Ward, 17, who will be a senior at Western Albemarle High School this fall. "I usually gotta give them updates when I'm out, so I'll probably continue to do that," he added.
The new rules also ban text messaging and picture taking. Hands-free devices are also banned. But perhaps the biggest issue teens have with the law, is that it only affects young drivers.
"I don't think age really has anything to do with it," said Cacy Bassignani, who will also be a senior at Western this year. "if you're going to take you're eyes off the road, just because you're 20 doesn't mean it's okay."
Ward agreed. "If you're going to be distracted by looking down at a phone, you're going to be distracted whether or not you've been driving two weeks or two years," he said.
But teens who break the rules will be taking a chance. The first offense can cost more than $200. And teens could loose their license for six months on a second offense.
"What we're trying to is for that period of time when you're just getting started, and you don't have much experience, it really would be helpful to have as few distractions as possible," said Delegate Rob Bell, a republican from the 58th District who voted in favor of the ban earlier this year.
But the ban is a secondary offense, meaning drivers have to pulled over for another reason before they can get a second ticket for using a phone. Some teens see that as a loophole.
"No one's ever going to stop, because it's a secondary offense," said Bassignani. "Everyone is like if I don't speed, then they can't just pull me over for using a cell phone."
"Either don't do it, or hope you don't get caught," said Ward.
Area police admit off camera the new ban may be a bit tough to enforce. Nonetheless, the say it is a new law that they will be taking seriously when it goes into effect this Sunday, July 1..