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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 8, 2007
Media Contact: Tia Freeman
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6701

No More Using Cell Phones for Drivers Under 18
New Law Designed to Keep Teen Drivers Safer

RICHMOND - Effective July 1, 2007, Virginia drivers younger than 18 years of age may not operate a motor vehicle in Virginia while using a cellular telephone or other wireless communications devices. The new law prohibits the use of cell phones, even if they are considered to be hands-free. It also prohibits text-messaging while driving.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reminds motorists that operating a vehicle requires their full-time attention. Distracted driving is among the leading causes of crashes, especially for inexperienced and new drivers. Except in a driver emergency or when the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped, drivers younger than 18 years need to turn off the cellular telephone.

"Teenage drivers have enough to worry about," said Virginia DMV Commissioner D.B. Smit. "If we can cut down on the distractions for a teen driver, the results can only be positive."

All Virginia drivers under the age of 18 are issued provisional driver's licenses. A provisional license carries other limitations as well, such as restrictions on the number of passengers and driver curfews. The ban on cell-phone usage while driving is considered a secondary violation, similar in Virginia to safety belt laws.

"Anything you do that takes away your attention from driving causes crashes," Smit said. "It's a distraction that none of us can afford but especially a teenager driver. For someone just learning how to drive, their attention needs to be fully on the road."

DMV encourages all drivers to avoid distractions by:

  • Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel at all times.
  • Set or adjust the controls on the vehicle and other devices as soon as you get in the car and before you begin driving.
  • Keep your body alert; sit straight, but relaxed. Look in the direction that you want to go.

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