Distracted drivers the focus of new legislation in West Virginia

Oct 7, 2016Distracted driving is the cause of many car accidents in Kanawha County and across the United States. Due to the widespread use of smartphones and other mobile electronic communication devices, many drivers are engaging in activities that are distracting them from safely driving their vehicle on the road. The result has been a large number of car accidents that are resulting in injuries and even fatalities.The U.S. Department of Transportation reported that in 2011, over 380,000 injuries and over 3,000 people died, due to car accidents caused by distracted driving. DOT indicates that at any moment during the day, 600,000 people are using their cell phones or other mobile devices while driving. In an effort to deter drivers from using their phones and driving while distracted, West Virginia has introduced new legislation that went into effect earlier this year in July 2013.

West Virginia Legislation

In 2012, the state of West Virginia passed laws which made texting while operating a vehicle a primary offense, and talking on a hand-held cell phone, without a hands-free apparatus, a secondary offense. In July 2013, the legislation expanded to make the latter a primary offense as well, which means that drivers do not have to commit another traffic violation such as speeding, erratic driving or improper lane changes to be pulled over.

Police officers can now stop vehicles and write citations for the sole offense of distracted driving. Signs such as following a car too closely, straying to the left of the center line and other lane violations, are clues to law enforcement that a driver may be distracted while driving.

Distractions for drivers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration distracted driving includes any activity that causes someone to divert their attention away from the task of operating a motor vehicle safely. Some of the most concerning distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Talking on a hand-held cell phone
  • Talking to passengers
  • Speech-to-text activities
  • Eating or drinking

Dangers of texting

There are many more sources of distraction for a drivers, however, the most dangerous activity is texting while driving. Texting incorporates the three primary forms of distraction which includes physical/manual activity, visual and mental distraction. Consequently, texting increases the risk of a car accident by 23 times.

Victims that have suffered injuries or losses in an accident due to a distracted driver should consult with an attorney. A lawyer who is experienced with the laws in West Virginia will be able to assist with pursuing any compensation due for injuries or other losses and to protect the rights of the victim.