Each year, the Virginia Bicycle Federation watches for bills that might affect bicycling and walking in Virginia, bills that could make it safer and easier or more dangerous and difficult to bicycle and walk. RIDE Solutions reports on the bills that the Virginia Bicycle Federation is watching. This article is for informational purposes; RIDE Solutions neither endorses nor opposes proposed legislation. You can find more information and track these bills at http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/
HB181, a ban on using handheld devices while driving, is alive and kicking in the Senate. Bud Vye of the Virginia Bicycle Federation reports that the Courts of Justice Committees in both the House and the Senate are considered the toughest hurdles for a bill to get through. Well, HB181 has made it through both.
HB181 has had an interesting journey:
- House Courts of Justice Subcommittee #1 reported it out on February 2, 5 to 1.
- House Courts of Justice Committee reported it out on February 5, 15 to 3.
- It went back to the Courts of Justice for an amendment. House Courts of Justice Committee reported it out again on February 9, 11 to 6.
- It was initially defeated on the House floor on February 13, 47 to 53, but immediately reconsidered and passed, 50 to 47. February 13 was Crossover, the last day a bill has to pass either the House or the Senate so it can cross over to the other side.
- Senate Courts of Justice Committee reported it out with amendments on February 26, 10 to 3.
I have to admit I hadn’t been excited about any of this because so many distracted driving bills fail every year, usually earlier than later. Most bills fail not because they were voted down but because they were never scheduled to be heard. The bills that do get heard are usually voted down in subcommittee. Many bills that make it out of committee fail on the floor, as wiser or foolish heads prevail, depending on your opinion of the bill.
Having passed all the Courts of Justice committees and subcommittee, HB181 has a very good chance of clearing the last tests: passing the Senate floor, reconciliation of the House and Senate versions, and the governor signing it into law.
Should all of that occur, the ultimate test begins. Will this law decrease the number of traffic injuries and fatalities in Virginia? It may take years to conclusively answer this question.