Most people carry smartphones and other mobile devices with them everywhere they go, keeping them connected to friends, family, and the latest news. But this nearly constant online engagement comes at a price, especially when drivers insist upon using these devices while behind the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes nationwide involving distracted drivers in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available. That’s why law enforcement agencies and public health officials in West Virginia and across the country are urging greater action to deal with the problem of distracted driving in general and texting while driving in particular.
Mobile devices provide a constant distraction
Texting while driving is particularly dangerous, as it is a distraction that takes motorists’ eyes off the road frequently and for several seconds at a time. In fact, research shows that responding to the average text message takes about five seconds, which is enough time to travel 100 yards when going 55 miles per hour. This makes it difficult for distracted drivers to notice and respond to hazards and avoid accidents.
In West Virginia, drivers may not text or use a handheld phone in any way while behind the wheel, although they may use hands-free devices to talk on the phone. Drivers with learner’s permits may not use a wireless device at all, with the same rule applying to school bus drivers. West Virginia was the 36th state in the nation to ban texting while driving when it did so in 2012.
All motorists have a responsibility to keep their eyes on the road and avoid dangerous distractions like mobile devices. To learn more about your options in West Virginia if you’ve suffered injuries due to the actions or negligence of a distracted driver, speak with an experienced auto accident lawyer at Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC.