West Virginia Legislature passed a cell phone/texting ban while driving law in the 2012 Legislative session. The law, which went into effect July 1, 2012, prohibits texting or using a cell phone without the use of hands-free technology while operating a motor vehicle. Operating a motor vehicle while texting or using a cell phone is a primary offense in West Virginia.
Despite these primary laws banning handheld device use and, texting for all drivers, and all cell phone use for novice drivers, distracted driving is still a problem in West Virginia. The Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) conducts surveys of drivers regarding their attitudes and awareness of programs addressing seat belt use, speeding, and impaired driving. Respondents were asked to self-report how often they talk on a cell phone and text when driving their vehicles. Just over 50 percent of the respondents indicated they talk on the cell phone some, most, or all of the time, while 37 – 40 percent reported texting while driving some, most, or all of the time. It should be noted that “some of the time” was by far the most prevalent answer among these three responses.
In the 1990s, West Virginia embraced the community/regional approach to traffic safety and the state continues to believe this is the most efficient approach in dealing with traffic safety problems and issues. The State is divided into eight regions based on geography and demographics.
The Division of Highways provided $1,000,000 to the GHSP for FFY 2015 to provide awareness, education, and enforcement programs which address distracted driving. The Governor’s Highway Safety Program continues to fund traffic safety initiatives throughout the eight Regional Traffic Safety Programs throughout West Virginia covering all 55 counties. These regions are tasked with traffic safety initiatives, including the prevention of cell phone/texting while driving and are tasked with conducting or facilitating at least one activity or media event on distracted driving and cell phone use/texting while driving.
Click here for more information on the GHSP’s Highway Safety Plan for FFY 2015.