Letter: Karen Jimmerson, Aldie

Editor: There are new roadway messaging signs displaying travel time and distance on Loudoun roads that “will enable drivers to be better informed and make safer and more coordinated commuting decisions,” county officials state. 

Most motor vehicles being driven are equipped with modern onboard navigation systems that calculate the best route, distances, and time. Mobile device apps, which also integrate into vehicles, provide navigation design for getting drivers where they want to go, with the least friction possible. 

Perhaps our local officials thought these signs would also be suitable for posting traffic incidents and road construction, but overall, those are infrequent events. A quick search and I found a study that stated these types of road signs are “underutilized if they are reserved for only these types of traffic messages.” So in effect, our elected decided to waste money to tell drivers how awful their misery is—something they already know. 

I offer a suggestion then, one supported by a study stating that “most drivers look at messages displayed and could recall many of the messages that they had seen in the past.” Even the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office prioritized posting the 9 p.m. routine information that helps individuals protect belongings but not lives. Since it went effective on July 1, 2021, there has been no effective campaign to make drivers aware of the hands-free law making it illegal to hold a cellphone or other handheld personal communications device while operating a motor vehicle. 

Driving daily in Loudoun, I see no less than a dozen drivers talking while holding cell phones and texting at traffic lights and while driving. Since this law became effective, there seems to be no discernible difference in driver behavior. During conversations with people, it is clear that too many Loudouners do not know it is now illegal to hold a cell phone while driving in Virginia. 

A study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, found that hands-free cellphone laws are associated with fewer driver deaths. Perhaps the optimal use of all messaging signs in Loudoun would be toward public safety and make everyone aware of the hands-free law when not needed for other traffic messaging.

Karen Jimmerson, Aldie

3 thoughts on “Letter: Karen Jimmerson, Aldie

  • 2021-12-09 at 8:04 pm

    Ms. Jimmerson’s letter is music to my ears. As a society, we’re too obsessed with electronic devices. I enjoy walking outdoors. But I’m risking my life when exposed to drivers who are texting or otherwise fussing with their gadgets. Life is too precious for such nonsense. At the very least, these new signs should be reminding motorists to drive safely. Happy Holidays Loudoun!

  • 2021-12-09 at 8:25 pm

    Without a doubt, the (not so) new law about cell phone usage while driving is being ignored or the word has not gotten out to people. I didn’t miss it, so I don’t know how others did, but our roads are very dangerous directly due to people being distracted by their devices.
    I ride a motorcycle to and from work about 9 months out of the year and the area that worries me the most is coming off Rt. 28 North onto Waxpool Rd. in Ashburn. First off, even without drivers being distracted, that area feels like someone just shook a bunch of cars out of a bag and poured them on the road in front of the Wegman’s shopping center. You have people coming off Rt. 28 from both directions, cars coming from Church Rd, then cars are trying to make lefts and rights onto Pacific Blvd, and of course many are going straight into Ashburn, all while knowing the right lane ends relatively soon. Now, add about 50% of the drivers are looking at their phones and you have a very dangerous situation and at least twice per week I am almost run over by someone who doesn’t see my bike, which is well lit.

    I really wish the cell phone laws would be enforced so people who are operating a motor vehicle can focus on what they’re doing.

  • 2021-12-09 at 9:43 pm

    The road is full of people still holding their cell phones and texting all the way down Route 50, 606, 28 and 7. And Leesburg PD is a 80% authorized strength so they won’t be running any high speed pursuits for that any time soon.

    I’ve seen the traffic signs on Route 50. It’s a great 1990’s solution finally deployed in 2021. Our county board is so out of touch that it hurts but I am hopeful the new Pony Express will speed up delivery of my complaints to their offices.

    Government doesn’t solve problems. Government “manages” problems and is always looking to implement some other ancient “solution” that didn’t work when the Greek city states tried it in 320BC. I can’t wait until the new Minotaur Warning System is fully functional.

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