In July 2012, West Virginia passed a cell phone/texting ban while driving which prohibits texting or the use of a cell without hands-free technology while operating a motor vehicle. Despite the State’s 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. While detailed distracted driving crash data currently are not available, the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) has citation and nonscientific survey data that support the need to address distracted driving.
For more on West Virginia’s laws regarding use of electronic devices while driving, click here.
Distracted driving is 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.
Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.
Nationally, in 2019, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. At any given moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.
In West Virginia, from 2016 – 2020, there have been an average of 279 fatal motor vehicle crashes annually on the state’s roadways. During that same timeframe, 69 involved a distracted driver.
Distracted Driving Initiatives
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
The National High Visibility Enforcement Mobilization is held one week in April every year, but law enforcement in West Virginia conduct distracted driving enforcement throughout the entire month of April. Law enforcement agencies also conduct high-visibility distracted driving enforcement year-round.
The GHSP promotes the
U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high visibility enforcement campaign. This campaign centers on aiding law enforcement officers in their efforts to keep texting and distracted drivers off the road. Distracted driving is a first offense in West Virginia and continues to gain recognition across the nation as a deadly traffic safety epidemic.
Connect to Disconnect (C2D)
C2D is a 4-hour national distracted driving enforcement and awareness initiative coordinated by state Highway Safety Offices and law enforcement agencies across the country. This initiative will take place in April during the
U Drive. U Text. U Pay. distracted driving high-visibility enforcement period that runs through the month of April.
One Text or Call Could Wreck it All
Distracted driving is one of the fastest growing safety issues on the roads today. Distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves; they are a danger to everyone else on the road. The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness, and education. In 2018, there were 2,841 people killed and an estimated 400,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Distracted driving is an especially problematic trend among younger drivers. In fact, 8% of drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes.