Over 450 car accidents were linked to cell phone use, texting and driving, or other electronic distractions like an iPod or GPS last year in West Virginia (WV), according to the Charleston Gazette.
Distracted driving is a major safety issue that is becoming increasingly common as more people use cell phones and text in their daily lives. Estimates indicate well have a trillion text messages in the next couple of years . The drawback is that when people text and drive, theyre potentially putting themselves at risk of getting into a major car crash and suffering a serious injury like a broken neck, facial lacerations, severed limbs, or a traumatic brain injury . Our firm has been concerned about distracted driving for some time and recently published a consumer guide detailing all of the various factors leading to distracted driving (take advantage of the free download here).
Are measures being taken to try and curb distracted driving in WV? Well, there is legislation working its way through the state senate which would make some distracted driving practices (i.e. talking on your cell phone while driving and texting while driving) a primary offense. Current law categorizes cell phone use while driving and/or texting and driving as a secondary offense, which means a police officer cant pull someone over if theyre engaged in these distracted driving practices. The driver would have to commit another offense like speeding or running a red light to get cited.
“It’s hard to enforce. We need something with more teeth in it,” said Sgt. Shawn Williams of the Charleston, WV Police Department traffic division.
Changing current law to stiffen cell phone use and texting penalties is a step in the right direction. Another important step is to address this issue early when young people are in a drivers education course hoping to get their drivers license. The next generation of drivers is at a much higher risk of suffering a serious injury in a car wreck due to distracted driving. Teenagers and young adults who are used to texting day in and day out will need to decrease this habit while behind the wheel. If not, the number of car accidents due to distracted driving in WV, and across the country, could dramatically increase.