New law aims to reduce distracted driving in construction zones

Local News

Virginia Department of Transportation or VDOT spokesperson says about 20 percent of work zone crashes are caused by distracted driving. A new Virginia law is aimed at reducing those crashes.

Started July 1, construction work zones will be hands-free meaning drivers caught on their phones could face a fine of up to $250.

It’s a law that people like Sonja Cole say is long overdue.

“You can sit here on the porch and just watch the traffic and you can see people going by on their phones,” said Cole.

The street outside of Cole’s home in Salem is currently under construction.

“I worry about the guys who work out here because they’re so busy working, they don’t really see what’s going on around them until it’s too late,” Cole said.

VDOT Spokesperson, Jason Bond says last year more than 1,200 people were injured in construction zone crashes and 9 were killed.

“So one of the ways you can definitely improve safety in work zones is by slowing down, obeying the posted speed limit, paying attention to the signs and minimizing those distractions when you’re passing through work zones,” said Bond.

Bond also says they have work zones set up across all 12 counties in the region and it’s important for drivers to pay close attention to the signs and not their devices.

“Because the conditions may change. if you come through the work zone in the morning, and when you come back in the afternoon, it may change,” Bond said.

Bond says the new law will hopefully help reduce the number of crashes in work zones. Which is something many drivers, like Gus Aranegui, agree with.

“I thought that was the law already. So I mean especially around a construction zone you shouldn’t be messing around on your phone,” Aranegui said.

“I mean you look down for one second and all of a sudden the car in front of you stops.”

Some tips from VDOT for staying safe in a work zone to avoid crashes include going the posted speed limit, not tailgating and being patient.

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