Distracted drivingEnlarge Photo
It’s only fitting that during April, National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, two more states, Idaho and West Virginia, have just passed tough bans on texting while driving. That leaves just 13 states remaining to come on board with legislation aimed at combating this dangerous form of distracted driving.
In Idaho, the 37th state to pass an anti-texting law, the ban on texting by all drivers goes into effect July 1, 2012. Violators will face an $85 fine.
Earlier this month, West Virginia became the 36th state to step up with legislation that seeks to curb texting by drivers. But legislators in West Virginia went beyond just texting, outlawing the use of all hand-held cell phones by those behind the wheel as well. West Virginia thus becomes the 10th state with a hand-held cell phone ban for drivers.
The other nine states with hand-held cell phone bans include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington. In addition, the District of Columbia, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all hand-held cell phone use while driving.
The West Virginia law goes into effect July 1, 2012. Violators will face a $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, and $300 for the third. In addition, three points will be assessed against the driver’s license on the third and any subsequent violations.
Text messaging will be a primary offense in West Virginia, effective July 1, while driver hand-held cell phone use will be limited to secondary enforcement until July 1, 2013, when it becomes a primary offense.
A simple message from law enforcement agencies and safety advocates across the country this month gets right at the point: “One Text or Call could Wreck it All.”
Bottom line: No call or text is worth taking the chance. Be a safe driver. Put away the cell phone and don’t take or make any calls or texts until you’re parked or out of the vehicle. Above all, be a good role model for your children, who will learn from your behavior behind the wheel. It’s the best place to start to help end this particularly dangerous form of distracted driving.
Learn more about distracted driving at Distraction.gov, a site launched by the U.S. Department of Transportation.