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Preventing car accidents goal of new West Virginia law

It's hard to find anyone these days that doesn't have a cell phone. The convenience of being able to keep in touch with people from anywhere has become a part of our lives as much as driving. It's when cell phones and driving are mixed that the possibility of having a car accident increases. It is this increased risk that prompted West Virginia lawmakers to act and pass a law against such practices

Anything that distracts a driver from paying attention to the road can cause an accident. People eat while driving, shave while driving, and even read the newspaper while driving. Using a cell phone or other electronic device while driving is also highly distracting. If a driver is looking at their phone, whether it be to take a call, make a call, or send or read a text, they are not looking at the road, and their attention is not on the road either.

On July 1, 2012, using an electronic device without it being hands free became a secondary offense in West Virginia. What that means is that if a driver is stopped for another reason, and is found to have been using an electronic device, a citation can be issued.

On July 1, 2013, using an electronic device while driving will become a primary offense. West Virginia police will be able to pull over anyone they see using an electronic device without any other reason for the stop. It should be noted that sitting at a stop light or stop sign does not make it OK to use an electronic device.

The hope is that this law will deter drivers from using electronic devices while they drive and thus reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers. In addition to that, anyone involved in a car accident in which a driver is cited for using an electronic device may be able to use any subsequent conviction based on that citation as evidence of the negligence of the driver in a personal injury case or wrongful death action.

Source: The Daily Athenaeum, "Get familiar with new W.Va. laws regulating cell-phone use while driving," Sgt. Peggy Runyon, Aug. 22, 2012

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