Written by Gregory Monte.
I first discovered this particular law when doing research into the Virginia Motor Vehicle Code. The result was a blog post called: Virginia Driving Laws – You Would Need a Police State to Enforce Some of Them
The Virginia Statute (and my commentary on it)
§ 46.2-812. Driving more than thirteen hours in twenty-four prohibited.
“No person shall drive any motor vehicle on the highways of the Commonwealth for more than thirteen hours in any period of twenty-four hours or for a period which, when added to the time such person may have driven in any other state, would make an aggregate of more than thirteen hours in any twenty-four-hour period.”
Here was the comment I made back in May about this particular law:
Obviously, you don’t want drivers falling asleep at the wheel, but read this law closely and you will see how silly it could potentially be.
For example, let’s say I have to drive back from Tampa, Florida to my house in Pennsylvania. Because it is such a long trip, I decide I don’t want to drive nonstop. Let’s assume that I also want to get some sightseeing in along the way, so I decide to check out Virginia (well known for its Revolutionary/Civil War past).
I leave Tampa at 10:00 AM and travel north, arriving in Roanoke, VA somewhere around 10:00 PM. After checking in to a local hotel, I sleep until 6:00 AM the next morning and am out on the road by 7:00. It’s a beautiful day and I sure am looking forward to those sites in Richmond …
But guess what?
YOU BETTER ARREST ME BEFORE I GET THERE BECAUSE BY 8:01 I AM OVER THE 13 HOUR VIRGINIA DRIVING LIMIT.
Unless I am reading this law incorrectly, I have earned myself a ticket for my “excessive” driving behavior.
How the *&@# Can This Possible be Enforced?
I use the question/answer website Quora to find out what other people think about issues that are interesting to me. So, I posted the following question last week:
“Many states have laws against driving for more than 12-13 hours straight (see link for Virginia’s version). How on earth can these laws possibly be enforced?”
I was rightly criticized by one person who asked me to find other states that also have an excessive driving statute. I haven’t done a complete search yet, but I only found one other – California (and it only applies to commercial drivers). Clearly I should not have said “many states.”
In any case, what I really wanted to find out was how the law could possibly be enforced – and I did get some decent answers. Here are two of the best:
“For commercial truckers there are logs that record how long they have driven. The same is true for commercial bus drivers for reputable operators like Greyhound. For personal vehicles it won’t be that easy. If they stop you and ask you where you are coming from and going to, you don’t have to answer. If you do answer you could incriminate yourself. If you have an accident you might find that gas, food, or hotel receipts with time and date stamped on them become evidence. Even credit card purchase records could be subpoenaed. If you don’t have an accident, or get stopped for some other reason, they will likely never know.”
“There are two ways. The old method requires a driver to maintain a log book, and record locations and times for starts and stops. The modern e-log records times and GPS data. The driver has what amounts to a countdown clock showing drive time left to a break, end of day, and forced 3- hour “reset” periods. The paper and e-log records are checked at weigh scales, or on demand by police.”
So there definitely are ways to enforce this Virginia statute. When I wrote my post back in May, I was not aware of these possibilities.
Chalk one up for Quora!
Don’t Always Trust Quora
Quora is a decent website, but I warn you not to trust everything that you read there. For example, I asked another question last week and got a completely incorrect answer. I have to admit that I already knew the correct response but wanted to see what others thought:
“Most states permit drivers to give a signal when they want slower drivers to move out of the left lane so that they can pass them. Besides flashing your lights what other possibilities are there to signal a driver to move over?”
Here is one of the answers:
“Actually, most states don’t permit such a signal. The slower driver usually has instructions such as “Slower Traffic Keep Right” or “Keep Right Except to Pass”. The only flashing lights to which a driver is required to yield are attached to emergency vehicles. If your state doesn’t require drivers to use the right lane unless overtaking a slower vehicle, the only thing that will move a drive from the passing lane to the driving lane is common courtesy.”
If you are a regular reader of my blog post you will know that the individual who wrote this is completely wrong about flashing lights. If you want the details, check out my blog post on this very issue: Impatient Driver Flashing High Beams Behind You? It’s legal, and you are required to move over.
Here are some states which definitely DO allow you to flash your lights:
Pennsylvania – Title 75, Section 3303
“… the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall not increase the speed of the vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle and shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on suitable signal … The “suitable signal” is defined as: “… an audible signal or the intermittent flashing of low and high beams…”
California – Vehicle Code Section 21753
“… the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall safely move to the right-hand side of the highway in favor of the overtaking vehicle after an audible signal or a momentary flash of headlights”
“… the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle, on audible signal or upon the visible blinking of the headlamps”