Summit on Distracted Driving focuses on challenging problem

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) The pain is still fresh for Christina Dempsey, six years after her sister and niece were killed in a crash caused by a distracted driver.

"I just want to look at somebody and say, what if this was your child," Dempsey told the audience. "What if this was your sister?"

The opening session of the statewide conference included personal moments, and the big picture from the Vice Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

"There are over half a billion cellphones in the United States or close to it," Bruce Landsberg told WDBJ7. "The problem is that multi-tasking, particularly when you are operating a vehicle, is a proven dangerous activity."

Also in the spotlight at the Drive Smart Virginia Distracted Driving Summit is the hands-free legislation that would prohibit drivers from holding a cellphone while operating a vehicle.

The bill almost made it through the General Assembly earlier this year, but ultimately died in a House and Senate Conference Committee.

Howard Hall is Roanoke County's Chief of Police.

"As driving evolves, as our transportation systems evolve, the laws have to evolve with it,: Hall said in an interview. "And this is clearly a case where that needs to happen."

Christina Dempsey says she will return to Richmond next year, determined to fight for legislation she knows will save lives.

"Because at the end of the day," Dempsey said, "I don't want others to go through what I and my family continue to go through."

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