When Kanawha County drivers are commuting to work or out running errands, many do not think that responding to a quick text message or talking on their phone using their vehicle's hands-free device system could cause a detrimental accident. Unfortunately, distracted driving is a problem that affects many drivers out on the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people are killed on a daily basis in a crash that involves a distracted driver and 1,060 are injured.
West Virginia's efforts to prevent distracted driving
In order to minimize the deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving in West Virginia, the governor, Early Ray Tomblin, recently enacted a new law that would make using a cell phone while driving illegal, says the West Virginia State Agency. As of July 1, driving while talking on a cell phone without using a hands-free device became a primary offense. This law follows legislation introduced in West Virginia in 2012 that made texting while driving a primary offense and talking on a cell phone while driving originally a secondary offense.
New study suggests hands-free devices may not eradicate the problem
However, cell phone use is not the only type of distracted driving that can harm other drivers. According to distraction.gov, distracted driving is any form of activity that takes the driver's sole focus away from driving. It can include activities such as:
- Talking on a cell phone or texting.
- Conversing with other passengers in the vehicle.
- Eating and drinking.
- Using a navigation system to get directions.
- Messing with the CD player, radio or MP3 player.
Although West Virginia's new legislation may reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths caused by drivers that talk on their cell phones while driving, allowing drivers to use hands-free technology may not eradicate the issue of distracted driving completely. A new study conducted by a professor from the University of Utah for AAA found that driving and talking on the phone using a hands-free device may even be more dangerous than using a hand-held cell phone.
The mental distractions that come from talking on a cell phone are what make drivers using hands-free devices less safe. According to the study, drivers that used a voice-controlled device missed vital information while driving, such as stop signs and pedestrians out walking. The drivers were also found to have slower reaction times while driving and using a hands-free device.
Although new legislation in West Virginia may reduce the number of distracted driving incidents, it may not get rid of them completely. If you were injured in an accident with a driver that was talking on their cell phone or engaging in another form of distracted driving, contact a personal injury attorney that can help you obtain necessary and proper compensation.