Texting and driving are part of the larger issue of distracted driving, which caused 3,166 traffic deaths in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Distracted driving injures more than 1,000 Americans every day, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Distracted driving is anything that causes drivers to take their attention away from the road and traffic conditions. Talking on a cell phone at the wheel is also distracted driving, as is looking at a map, eating, or any other activity that causes your eyes, hands, and attention to wander.
Texting and driving is especially dangerous because many people may feel as if sending a text only takes a few seconds – not enough time to do any harm. They couldn’t be more wrong.
A driver going 55 miles an hour actually covers the length of a football field in less than five seconds. Another driver could pull out or change lanes, a child run into the street, or a bicyclist appear from a side road in those seconds. As a result, people who text while driving are twice as likely to cause a vehicle crash as drivers who don’t.
West Virginia Is Tough on Texting and Driving
West Virginia bans all texting while driving. It is one of 48 states that do. Not only that, but use of a hand-held phone or any other electronic device is also banned while driving.
Using a hand-held device to report a fire or other emergency to the appropriate authorities is the sole exception. In addition, if your device is hands-free, rather than hand-held, talking while driving is legal.
The laws against texting and driving and using a hand-held device while driving have been in force since 2012 and 2013, respectively. They are primary enforcement offenses, which means that law enforcement can stop drivers who are violating the law. No other offense, such as speeding or running a stop sign, need come into play.
These laws apply to all drivers as well. Operators of private vehicles, school bus drivers, and operators of commercial vehicles, such as a truck, must all follow them.
These laws have made West Virginia drivers safer on our roads. Traffic death dropped 18% in West Virginia in 2014, after both laws were enacted. State officials believe that the bans were leading factors behind the reduction.
Unfortunately, it is still all too tempting to text and drive. Nationally, 20% of all drivers admit they still text and drive. Roughly one-third of teenagers aged 16-17 admit that they have texted while driving.
Drivers who text while driving in West Virginia can be fined up to $100 for the first offense. If they are convicted of a second offense, they can be fined up to $200. If they are convicted of a third offense, the fine is as much as $300 and 3 points go on their driver’s license.
Accidents Caused by Texting and Driving
Accidents caused by a driver who texted while driving can cause suffering and injuries that last for years. Broken bones, lacerations, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injuries, and nerve damage are just some of the physical damages that can caused by these types of accidents.
If you have suffered injuries, damage to your car or other property, or emotional distress caused by a texting and driving accident, what should you do? You may be facing mounting medical bills, long-term care, and loss of the money you receive from working if the accident caused you to lose time from work or made it impossible to continue working. Effects from the accident, financial and emotional issues, or both, could be causing even more anguish and stress.
It’s prudent to consult an attorney. Under West Virginia law, drivers who caused an accident because they violated the law or were not driving safely can be found negligent, and thus responsible for the accident. If a suit is brought against them and they are found guilty, they can be found liable for damages for medical bills for injuries, damage to cars and other property, the victim’s loss of wages from work, pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, and more.
If Texting While Driving Has Injured You or a Loved One
There are no two ways about it. Texting and driving is against the law in West Virginia. If you or a loved one has been injured by a driver who was texting or engaging in any other form of distracted driving, talk to a seasoned Charleston, West Virginia car accident attorney at Johnstone & Gabhart. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.