Just in time for summer, three new Virginia traffic laws went into effect July 1, 2020. These laws increase the penalties for a few traffic violations and make the roads safer for vulnerable road users.

Virginia drivers should understand these new responsibilities before hitting the roads this summer. Without knowing how these new laws work, residents could incur some stiff fines or even spend time in jail.

Three new laws for summer motorists

Virginia’s General Assembly passed three new bills just in time for summer. The weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day are notoriously dangerous for Virginia drivers. People often refer to this period as the “100 Deadliest Days.” Legislators hope these new laws curb the number of fatal accidents that occur through July and August by protecting vulnerable pedestrians:

  • Protection of Bicyclists and Other Vulnerable Road Users: Senate Bill 437 tackles distracted driving by introducing an increased penalty for collisions with pedestrians. If a driver causes serious bodily injury to a vulnerable road user because of careless or distracted driving, they may incur a Class 1 misdemeanor charge. In Virginia, a Class 1 misdemeanor could result in 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
  • Pedestrian Yielding Law: House Bill 1705 grants pedestrians additional protections on the highway. The law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians crossing the road. Vehicles approaching from other lanes may not pass vehicles stopping for pedestrians.
  • Reckless Driving Punishment: Lawmakers in both the House and Senate passed a bill to increase fines for speeding in a 65 miles per hour area. Drivers speeding between 81 and 85 in these areas will incur an additional $100 fine when ticketed.

Legislators introduced these laws in support of the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD), a nationwide movement that fights to reduce fatal accidents on U.S. roadways.

Fight for pedestrian rights

These new laws help keep pedestrians safe on the road and in the courtroom. Those who have suffered an injury because of the action of a reckless motorist can reach out to a local attorney familiar with Virginia motor vehicle law to review the case and file suit.