Legislators consider bill banning handheld cell phone usage in work zones

Local News

A bill is making its way through the Virginia General Assembly that would ban the use of handheld cell phones in highway work zones. 

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, there were 2,600 crashes in Virginia work zones in 2015 alone.

When driving through a construction zone, people we spoke with agree it is important to be cautious.

“I generally slow down, think about the safety of the employees,” said Alex Johnson, a Ferrum College student. “They’re doing their hard day’s work.”

“You definitely don’t want to be distracted because that’s somebody’s life,” said David Gross, Roanoke resident. 

If House Bill 1606 becomes law, the use of handheld communication devices would be prohibited in highway work zones when workers are present.

More than 1,400 people were injured in work zone crashes in the 2015, and seven people were killed, according to VDOT.

“Highway construction is one of the top most dangerous professions in the United States,” said Jason Bond, VDOT spokesperson.

Driver inattention is one of the leading causes of work zone crashes, Bond said. But it’s not just the construction workers who are at risk, he added.

“It may surprise drivers to know that they’re actually more at risk for being injured in a work zone than actually the highway workers,” Bond explained. “Slow down, minimize disruptions, be attentive as conditions may change in that work zone.”

If the bill becomes law, the penalty would be a $125 fine for the first violation and a $250 fine for subsequent offenses.

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