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Heads up Hokies: New handheld device and crosswalk laws in effect

Heads up Hokies sticker at the start of a crosswalk

From: Virginia Tech Transportation Services and Virginia Tech Police Department

In effect Jan. 1, 2021, two new Virginia laws are aiming to make roadways safer for all users.

Virginia “hand-held” law: This new law bans cell phone use while driving in the commonwealth of Virginia. You cannot have your phone in your hand while operating a motor vehicle under any circumstances; this includes no texting, no talking on the phone (unless connected to Bluetooth or hands-free), no changing songs/music, no web surfing, and more.

Click here for more information about the new hand-held law.

Pedestrian crosswalk law: Previously, drivers only had to yield to people walking in marked or unmarked crosswalks. Now, drivers in all lanes must come to a complete stop if someone is attempting to use the crosswalk — even if the person is crossing from the opposite side of the street or there’s a median. In addition, cars behind the first one stopped must not pass. This law applies to both vehicles and bicycles.

Click here for more information about the new pedestrian crosswalk law.

Why are these laws important?

Eighty percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near-crashes involve driver inattention within three seconds of the crash.

Every day, about nine people are killed, and over 1,000 are injured, in crashes involving a distracted driver.

National statistics like these continue to underscore the Heads Up Hokies campaign, which encourages Hokies and community members traveling across campus on foot, by bike, e-scooter, bus, or car to keep their heads up, act predictably, and pay attention to their surroundings.

This is particularly important in shared road spaces because of the additional types of interactions that can occur.

These new laws support the Heads Up Hokies mission by providing further safety for pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, and anyone sharing the road.

Click here to read about Heads Up Hokies and how you can support the campaign.

— Written by Christy Myers