Transportation safety legislation clears House committee

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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7) Buckle up, and put down your cellphone while driving.

State lawmakers are sending that message with legislation that cleared a House Committee Thursday morning.

The version of Senate Bill 907 the House Transportation Committee approved would ban the use of handheld devices while driving, require everyone in a car to wear seat belts and prohibit open containers of alcohol inside a motor vehicle.

"What we're really trying to do is just make sure that everyone, when they get into a car, they get into a truck, they're being responsible," said Delegate Danica Roem (D-Manassas).

Among those supporting the measure was Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall, current President of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.

He said the organization strongly supports the ban on the use of handheld devices, and the requirement that all occupants of a car wear their seatbelt.

"People that are involved in crashes that are unrestrained are seven times more likely to be killed than the person who is restrained," Hall told the committee.

The proposal that drew the most opposition, would extend the time between state inspections from one year to two.

"There are eight and a half million cars inspected every year," said lobbyist Bruce Keeney, "and this prevents accidents, which affect traffic, job flows etcetera."

The committee voted to report the bill to the full House. If it wins approval there, it will head to a conference committee where House and Senate negotiators will attempt to resolve differences between the two versions of the legislation.

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