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States get serious about stopping texting and driving

Distracted drivers are a danger to everyone on West Virginia's roadways, including themselves. An official government website reported that in 2012 alone, more than 3,000 people died nationwide as result of car accidents involving a distracted driver. Moreover, the same website shows a staggering figure that roughly 421,000 people suffered injuries due to distracted driving.

Car accidents caused by distracted driving are clearly a significant problem throughout the country. Authorities in West Virginia are focused on doing something to curb these kinds of accidents. State law prohibits drivers from using their handheld cellular phones while they are behind the wheel of a car. The law includes talking on the phone, texting and driving and anything else that a person might do on a cellular device. People can legally use hands-free communication devices while driving in West Virginia.

In Kenova, West Virginia, which is about 60 miles west of Charleston, police are on the lookout for anyone who is violating the state's distracted driving law. Even if the driver is using their phone while stopped at a traffic light, that person is still violating the state law and police will ticket them.

Since July 1 of last year, it is a primary offense to use a handheld phone while behind the wheel. This means that police can stop the driver for that offense alone, rather than having to wait to see whether the driver commits a separate offense like speeding.

Cellular phone usage while driving is a very dangerous practice, which is why West Virginia and 35 other states have banned texting and driving. In addition to facing criminal penalties, distracted drivers who injure other people have civil liability for those damages.

Source: WOWK TV, "Distracted driving enforcement blitz aimed at changing deadly habits," April 16, 2014

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