The West Virginia Texting Bill that passed the Senate earlier this month is now in the House. The legislation makes it illegal to text or talk on a hand-held cell phone while driving. The Senate bill makes it a primary offense. The House has yet to decide. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. The National Safety Council has designated April 1-30, 2012 as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in a concentrated effort to educate the public of the dangers of any distractions that impair driving.
Update: The texting bill passed in WV, and it is now a primary offense if you are caught texting while driving.
The Senate sent the texting bill to the House with texting as a primary offense and talking on a hand-held cell phone a secondary offense. The WV House voted to make both texting and use of a hand-held cell phone primary offenses with $100, $200, and $500 fines. In conference committee Saturday evening, the three senators suggested a compromise phasing in the hand-held provision as a primary offense after two years. The House responded that if the Senate would agree to a one year phase in, they would agree to lower the fines to $100, $200, and $300 for first and subsequent offenses. When the bill goes to the governor, texting will be a primary offense as of July 1, 2012 and use of a hand-held phone a secondary offense. Use of a hand-held phone will become a primary offense on July 1, 2013. Though the governor’s original bill made both offenses secondary, the governor has said he supports the bill as it is and praises it as a measure to make West Virginia roads safer.
According to a United States Government program called Distraction.gov, distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.
These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.
The best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses. On this page, you’ll find facts and statistics that are powerfully persuasive. If you don’t already think distracted driving is a safety problem, please take a moment to learn more. And, as with everything on Distraction.gov, please share these facts with others. Together, we can help save lives..
Key Facts and Statistics
- In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured. (NHTSA)
- 16% of fatal crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
- 20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
- In the month of June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US, up nearly 50% from June 2009. (CTIA)
- Teen drivers are more likely than other age groups to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction is reported. In 2009, 16% of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were reported to have been distracted. (NHTSA)
- 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger. (Pew)
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Monash University)
- Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. (VTTI)
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. (VTTI)
- Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use. (VTTI)
- Using a cell phone while driving – whether it’s hand-held or hands-free delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
- Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%. (Carnegie Mellon)
Chart from NegligentDriving.com
Robinette Legal Group, PLLC: We’re here to help.
If we can be of any further assistance to you, it would be our pleasure to speak with you personally about your injury claim. You may reach us at http://www.robinettelaw.com and http://www.robinettelaw.com/Car-Accident-Injuries/ or call our law office at 1-304-594-1800.
Additional information from a community outreach sponsored by Verizon Wireless which seeks to educate the public and support legislation and new technological solutions for driving responsibly: http://aboutus.verizonwireless.com/commitment/safety_security/dont_text_and_drive/