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Crack down on texting initiative in place

By Staff | Apr 8, 2016

From April 8-13, law enforcement personnel will be using a combination of traditional and innovative strategies to crack down on motorists who text while driving. The national U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility enforcement campaign had two goals: conduct intense enforcement of anti-texting laws, and couple these efforts with advertising, media, and social media outreach to let drivers know about the enforcement and convince them to obey the law.

“Driving and texting is not only dangerous and irresponsible-it’s illegal,” said Margaret Walker of Eastern Panhandle Safe Community Program. “Drivers who break our state’s texting law will be stopped and fined. Because, This is a major problem in our country, and we’re trying to work toward a resolution by fining violators. If you drive and text, you will pay.” Therefore be on the lookout for Law Enforcement Agencies who will participate with NHTSA crackdown effort.

West Virginia is one of the few states that have a hand-held cell phone use ban for all drivers. Like many other states, West Virginia prohibits all drivers from texting, and bans novice drivers from all cell phone use. The use of hand-held cell phones became a primary offense on July 1, 2013. The penalties for distracted driving in West Virginia include a $100 fine for first-time offenders, which increase to $200 for second-time offenders, and $300 for third and subsequent offenses. In addition, third and subsequent convictions carry three demerit points against your license.

Distracted driving statistics paint a grim picture: In 2014, an estimated 3,179 people were killed and an additional 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. It is clear that distracted driving continues to be a deadly driving hazard.

According to a 2014 special article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of a crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of many secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones.

The percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014. Since 2007, young drivers (ages 16 to 24) have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers.

“Texting and driving requires motorists to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving. This is a recipe for a crash, and that’s a scary thought. It’s arrogant and selfish to think that your dangerous and illegal behavior is acceptable. No one has the right to put another person’s life at risk like that,” said Margaret Walker of Eastern Panhandle Safe Community Program.

The successes of the Click It or Ticket and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaigns have proven that the combination of tough laws, targeted advertising, and high-visibility enforcement can change people’s risky traffic safety behaviors.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov.