` The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program reminds drivers: Using your cell phone while driving is illegal

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The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program reminds drivers: Using your cell phone while driving is illegal

4/1/2021
CHARLESTON, WV  The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to share the message about the dangers and consequences of texting and distracted driving. This annual campaign is part of NHTSA’s national distracted driving high-visibility enforcement effort. The GHSP is partnering with law enforcement agencies statewide throughout the month of April to remind drivers that using your cell phone while driving is not only dangerous, it is illegal in West Virginia.
 
West Virginia’s high-visibility enforcement effort will begin April 1 but will kick into high gear with Connect to Disconnect (C2D), 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 on April 8, 2021, with multiple agencies conducting high-visibility enforcement in the same timeframe.
 
The goals of C2D and the high-visibility enforcement period are to demonstrate a nationwide commitment to enforcing cell phone and texting bans, and to reduce traffic crashes caused by distracted drivers, ultimately preventing injuries and deaths associated with cell phone use and texting while driving.
 
“As they say, plain talk is easily understood, so I’m going to be blunt: Driving while looking at your cell phone is as dangerous as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs,” said Bob Tipton, GHSP Director. “Did you know that when you send or read a text message, you take your eyes off the road for approximately five seconds? Traveling at 55 miles per hour, that's like driving the length of a football field--blindfolded. No text or call is worth killing yourself or someone else.”
 
“Texting, messaging on social media, watching videos, or checking your phone for directions while driving is simply not safe. Those behaviors put not only the driver, but everyone on the road at risk, including other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians,” continued Tipton.
 
According to NHTSA, between 2012 and 2019, 26,004 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. While fatalities from motor vehicle crashes decreased slightly from 2018, distraction-related fatalities increased by 10%. NHTSA also reported that the number of deaths linked to driver distraction was 3,142 nationwide or almost 9% of all fatalities in 2019. This represents a 10% increase over the year 2018, or 284 more fatalities. The distraction figure was the largest increase in causes of traffic deaths reported for 2019.
 
Violating West Virginia’s distracted driving laws can be costly. The fine for the first offense of using a cell phone while driving in West Virginia is $100 plus court costs. The second offense carries a fine of $200 and court costs. The consequences of a third offense and subsequent offenses are a $300 fine and court costs plus demerit points being applied to the driver’s license record.
 
“West Virginians need to get the message that using your cell phone while driving is not only dangerous, it is illegal in West Virginia. We want drivers to focus on the most important tasks: hands on the wheel and eyes on the road,” Tipton concluded.
 
Drive Safe Every Trip
 
The GHSP and NHTSA urge drivers to put their phones away when behind the wheel. If you need to text, pull over and do not drive while doing so. If you are the driver, follow these steps for a safe driving experience: 
  • If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
  • Ask your passenger to be your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
  • Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
  • Cell phone use is habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Activate your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put your phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

No text or post is worth ruining someone’s day — or taking a life. For more information, visit www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/distracted-driving.
 
For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit www.dmv.wv.gov/ghsp or call 304-926-2509.​​​

Contact:

Aimee Cantrell
304-926-3901
Aimee.B.Cantrell@wv.gov