As the use of smartphones has increased, including the ability to text, use social media, and even browse the Internet, many states, including West Virginia, have implemented mandatory hands-free legislation. A recent study has highlighted that “50% of all drivers between 18 and 24 admit to texting while driving and four out of five accidents can be attributed to distracted drivers. It is a well-known fact that texting and driving, makes someone 23% more likely to be involved in an accident.”
As a result, “there are currently 25 states that have complete or partial bans on text messaging while driving.” The State of West Virginia has long been the home of distracted driving from the use of smart and cell phones, where, “271 people died in West Virginia traffic accidents in 2014.” Historically, West Virginia has had “some of the highest road fatality rates in the U.S.”
West Virginia has implemented a number of relevant laws in this regard.
- All drivers, regardless of age, are banned from using handheld cell phones.
- Drivers under 18 years old who hold a permit or an intermediate license cannot use a wireless communication device (this includes hands-free) unless they are contacting the 9-1-1 system.
- All drivers, regardless of age, are banned from texting while driving.
- Drivers over 18 that are seeking to use cell phones while driving must use hands-free related devices.
Drivers that choose to ignore West Virginia’s mandatory use of hands-free law are subject to a number of fines, penalties, points, and punishment, including:
- Fines: $100 (first offense), then $200, then $300
- Three points against the driver’s license on the third and subsequent convictions
Overall, the state’s anti-distracted driving legislation and mandatory use of hands-free devices seems to be fairly effective. “125 West Virginia drivers were convicted of electronic distracted driving in the first 10 months of the state’s texting & talking law and the count is expected to increase now that use of handheld cell phones is a primary offense”
It is important for drivers in West Virginia to be cognizant of the state’s distracted driving legislation, especially since, based on the above statistics, there is a strong likelihood that either you or someone you know may become involved in a car accident as a result of texting or cellphone use. Courts in many states recognize that when a particular driver violates a traffic law or engages in prohibited activity, that evidence of such violations can be admissible and demonstrative of a driver’s actual liability. As such, West Virginia drivers should pay close attention to the distracted driving laws in the state, including the state’s effort to focus on “Turn it Off. Put it Down. Just Drive.”
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If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident as a result of distracted driving, you need attorneys with experience in personal injury matters. Colombo Law is highly experienced in such matters and can evaluate your potential legal claims on your behalf.