In Focus: Distracted Driving in West Virginia

Distracted driving has become a dangerous habit across the United States. People remain tied to their phones and electronic devices even when behind the wheel and it is putting everyone else on the road at risk. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reported 3,477 fatalities caused by distracted driving in 2015 alone. Furthermore, NHTSA reported 391,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving in the same year. These numbers will be, hopefully, eye-opening to the estimated 660,000 drivers who use electronic devices while operating a vehicle during the day.

April is coming up and it is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Let’s all make a pledge to put out phones down while driving and focus on our safety and the safety of others. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to significant compensation.

What Are West Virginia’s Distracted Driving Laws?

If you think you are able to safely text and drive, think again. It is estimated that it takes a person about 5 seconds to read or respond to a text message. No big deal, right? Wrong. For someone driving at 55 mph, taking eyes off the road for 5 seconds is equivalent to driving an entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. A significant amount of damage can occur in that type of distance. That is why West Virginia, among other states, has taken enacted laws to try and curb the state’s distracted driving problem.

First, West Virginia’s distracted driving laws ban texting and talking on a hand-held device while operating a vehicle. Texting while driving is a primary offense which means that it stands on its own. A law enforcement officer can pull you over solely because they suspect you are texting while driving. You can be cited for the offense. An exception would be using your phone to text in an emergency situation.

Additionally, West Virginia law bans all novice drivers from using both handheld and hands-free phones while driving. Novice drivers include those with learner’s permits or intermediate licenses. The age of the driver is irrelevant. The law also prohibits bus drivers from using handheld cellphones or texting while they are operating their vehicles.

In addition to potentially receiving a citation for distracted driving, you also risk liability for causing an accident that occurs while you are texting and driving. When people drive distracted, the likelihood of causing or contributing to causing an accident increases dramatically. You are likely to be legally responsible for any injuries you cause while driving distracted.

Fighting for those Injured by Distracted Drivers

You may be the safest driver on the road, but you are still not insulated from the potentially devastating effects of having others drive while distracted. If you have been injured by a distracted driver, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hewitt & Salvatore. Our dedicated attorneys fight for our clients and their legal right to receiving full and fair compensation for their injuries. Contact us today.