West Virginia Authorities Continue to Enforce Distracted Driving Laws
Over the past several years, safety advocates, lawmakers, and law enforcement across the nation have been working to reduce the number of preventable traffic accidents caused by distracted driving. In West Virginia, a statewide texting while driving ban took effect in July 2012. The following year, another distracted driving law passed, making it a primary offense to use a cellphone behind the wheel without a hands-free device. Since these two laws took effect, authorities have been busy enforcing the state's distracted driving laws.
According to an article recently published in the Charleston Daily Mail, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety recorded more than 600 distracted driving convictions - for both texting and using a cellphone without a hands-held device - in Kanawha, Logan, Boone, and Clay Counties since last July. Despite the numbers, officers still report that far too many drivers continue to talk, text, and use their cellphones while driving. They plan to use consistent enforcement, as well of periods of increased enforcement, to ensure that all drivers on West Virginia roadways understand just how dangerous distracted driving can be.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving has become a national epidemic responsible for thousands of preventable injuries and deaths each year. Key facts and statistics about distracted driving prove just how dangerous it can be:
- 3,328 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes in 2012.
- An estimated 421,000 people suffered injuries in distracted driving crashes.
- Texting or using a cellphone can increase crash risks by three times.
- Texting for 5 seconds at 55 mph is equivalent to traveling the length of a football field blindfolded.
Distracted driving, by definition, refers to any action that takes a driver's attention away from the primary task of driving. Although any form of distracted driving is dangerous and negligent, texting has widely been considered the most dangerous because it commands drivers' manual, visual, and cognitive attention simultaneously. To combat these issues, drivers can utilize a number of hands-free devices and technology, as well as new smartphone apps.
Smartphone apps designed to prevent texting while driving have become popular in many states, especially among parents who want to ensure their children are driving safely. One app, called Text Limit, can prevent teen drivers from using smartphones while a vehicle is traveling over a certain speed. The app also allows parents to track the locations of their teens and the speed at which they're traveling. For interested parents, the article provides a registration code for one free year of the app.
The more people understand that distracted driving places others at risk, the safer our roadways will become. At Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, our West Virginia car accident lawyers are available to help anyone who has been injured in traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers. For more information about your rights after an accident, contact us today.