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Police: Driver holding phone before crashing into woods

Dinwiddie crash cargo spill.jpg
Posted at 9:25 AM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 09:25:37-04

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- A truck driver was charged with holding a cell phone while driving after a crash that resulted in his truck running off the road and into the woods.

The crash was reported at about 6:41 a.m. on Route 40 (McKenney Highway) near Hill Top Drive.

"A 2000 Sterling tractor-trailer carrying diesel tanks was headed west on Route 40 when it ran off the road to the right. The vehicle overturned and the cargo spilled," according to an email from Virginia State Police.

Truck driver Jonathan A. Taylor, 36, of Dinwiddie, was charged with reckless driving, failure to maintain control, and holding a cellphone while driving.

In 2020, Virginia lawmakers made it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving. The law went into effect on January 1, 2021.

The law allows police to pull a driver over for having a phone in their hand and give them a $125 ticket on the first offense, $250 on the second.

Breaking the law in a highway work zone was punishable by a mandatory $250 fine.

According to Drive Smart Virginia, 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near-crashes involved driver distraction within three seconds of the crash.

Exceptions to the law include drivers who are lawfully stopped or parked and drivers of Emergency or Department of Transportation vehicles who are performing official duties.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.