April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month in West Virginia

In West Virginia and across the country, April has been designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. While many activities can be distracting when behind the wheel - such as eating or changing the radio station - the awareness campaign focuses primarily on distractions caused by cellphones.

Cellphones, and particularly smartphones, are considered especially dangerous to motorists on the road. As smartphones allow users to access the Internet and send text messages, the driver can be distracted from the road for long periods of time. In addition, some activities - such as texting - not only require a motorist to avert his or her eyes from the road, but also occupy the driver's hands and cognitive abilities.

Prevent dangerous distracted driving accidents in West Virginia

Legislation has been enacted in West Virginia to prevent drivers from engaging in distracting behaviors while behind the wheel.

For instance, all motorists in West Virginia are prohibited from using handheld cellphones while on the road. In other words, drivers may only use a cellphone if it has hands-free capabilities, such as voice-activated technology. In addition, all drivers in West Virginia are banned from texting while driving.

Further restrictions have been placed on novice drivers in the state. They are prohibited from using cellphones of any type, including those that can be operated hands-free.

Despite these laws and similar ones enacted in many states across the country, distracted driving continues to cause a significant number of injuries and fatalities each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,328 people were killed in auto accidents caused by distracted drivers in the U.S. in 2012. In addition, approximately 421,000 people suffered personal injuries following a distracted driving accident that year.

West Virginia police officers focusing on distracted driving violations

In response to the nationwide public awareness campaign, law enforcement officers in West Virginia will be cracking down on distracted drivers during April. Officers will be looking for any individual who is violating one of the distracted driving laws in West Virginia.

Police officers have noted, however, that certain laws are more difficult to enforce than others. For instance, citing individuals for violating the texting ban can be a challenge. Since January 2013, data has been compiled regarding the number of citations issued for distracted driving violations in West Virginia. Reportedly, almost 2,000 cellphone use citations have been issued by law enforcement officers in the state. In comparison, only 148 citations for texting while driving have been issued.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a distracted driver, you may be able to recover damages to account for the harm caused in the crash. After such an accident, it would be wise to seek the advice of a qualified personal injury attorney to make certain your rights are protected.

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