Starting July 1, 2013, any person who operates a motor vehicle on a public street or highway while talking on a cell phone can be pulled over and issued a citation. Pursuant to W.Va. Code § 17C-14-15, talking on the cell phone while driving will now be enforced as a primary offense, meaning law enforcement officials can pull over drivers whom they suspect are talking on the phone. The fines for talking on a cell phone while driving are as follows: (1) $100 for the first offense, (2) $200 for the second offense, and (3) $300 for the third and subsequent offense. Points may not be entered on any driver's record maintained by the Division of Motor Vehicles as a result of talking on a cell phone while driving, unless it is your third or more offense.
With the explosion of cell phone usage over recent years, distracted driving has become a significant problem. Here are some concerning statistics about distracted driving from distraction.gov, the official government website for distracted driving:
- 6,598 drivers were killed in car accidents involving a distracted driver in 2010 and 2011;
- An additional 803,000 drivers were injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver during this time period;
- 10% of car accident fatalities involved a distracted driver;
- 11% of fatal car accidents involving drivers under the age of 20 were reported as distracted at the time of the accident; and
- For drivers ages 15-19 killed in a car accident, 21% of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones.
As can be seen by the statistics above, car accidents too frequently can have a tragic and disabling effect on people's lives. Hopefully the implementation of West Virginia's Distracted Driver Law will help increase safety on our roadways for all drivers.