The National Transportation Safety Administration (NTSA) defines distracted driving as, “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”
Distracted driving in the past was usually limited to changing the station on the radio or having too many noisy teenagers in the car. Today, however, distracted driving involved even more risky and dangerous behavior and includes more cell phone and smartphone usage and sending and receiving text messages. Not only does reading a text message take the drivers eyes off of the road, writing a text message requires the hands as well, and the two can be a lethal combination. Texting while driving put the lives of the driver and passengers at serious risk and also endangers the lives of other innocent drivers and their passengers, by greatly increasing the change of a serious vehicular accident.
Texting & Driving Is Distracted Driving
Texting and driving are reported by the National Highway Safety Council as being responsible for causing one out every four motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Distracted driving due to using a cell phone causes over 1.6 million traffic accidents every year leading to close to 400,000 injuries and thousands of fatalities, so many in fact that distracted driving has replaced drunk driving as the number one cause of fatalities for young drivers. Another factor to be considered is that while drunk driving primarily occurs in the evening and night hours, text messaging occurs all day long during the time of day that vehicle traffic is the heaviest. High school students text with their friends, business people text and call their clients, and parents with children in the car talk and text with each other while driving. Distracted driving affects every age group at all times.
Texting & Driving Laws In West Virginia & Many Other States
West Virginia law enforcement authorities were quick to realize the hazards of cell phone and smartphone usage and have increased the criminal penalties and fines accordingly. Text messaging while driving is considered by law enforcement to be a primary offense on par with speeding or reckless driving and a texting driver can be pulled over and ticketed for the offense of text messaging alone. Driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone is illegal as well. If the driver is over 18 years old, talking on the phone is allowable if the phone is in a cradle or other “hands-free” device.
Drivers 18 years old and under are banned from using all cell phone and personal communications devices while driving. Drivers that are on a restricted license such as their learner’s permit or an intermediate license are prohibited from any and all cell phone usage while driving.
Other distracted driving violations depend on the type of license the motor vehicle operator is working under. School bus drivers, for example, have an enormous responsibility to safely transport children to and from home and school and like novice drivers are prohibited from using any type of cell or smartphone device while operating the bus. Under the final version of Senate Bill 211, texting bus drivers can be fined from $100 to $300 depending on the number of accumulated violations and up to three demerits on their driver’s license.
If you have been injured or have suffered the loss of a loved one in a car accident, because of the distracted driving of another driver in West Virginia, please do not hesitate to contact the Morgantown, WV distracted driving accident attorneys at Adams Legal Group, PLLC that focus on serious accidents and injury claims. In West Virginia, call for a free consultation at (304) 381-2166 to find out if you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain, suffering, annoyance and inconvenience.
William S. Adams, Esq. is the owner and managing litigation attorney at Adams Legal Group, PLLC, a personal injury law firm in West Virginia. The firm is dedicated to helping injured parties and victims of distracted drivers receive just and fair compensation for their injuries.