West Virginia’s House and Senate committees are expected to pass a bill banning cell phone use and texting while driving. The bill is championed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, and once he signs it, West Virginia will become one of a growing number of states to ban the practice. Already nine states and Washington D.C. ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving, while 35 states have banned text messaging.
The bill would treat both cell phone use and texting as secondary offenses, meaning that a police officer could cite drivers for cell phone use or texting only after pulling them over for a different offense. Other states treat cell phone use as a primary offense, so police officers can pull drivers over just for using a cell phone.
One typical reason for the imminent ban was given by Delegate Nancy Peoples Guthrie: “We’re losing too many people in accidents that we know could be avoided. I don’t want to lose any more kids, any more parents, any more people.” Already, West Virginia prohibits drivers 18 years old and younger from texting or using a cell phone while operating a car. The upcoming ban would extend that ban to every driver.
The Senate Transportation and Infrastructure committee and the House Transportation and Roads committee are expected to take up the bill, and chairmen of both are optimistic that the legislation will take effect sometime this year.
We at the Wolfe Law Firm believe that banning handheld cell phones and texting is a smart solution that is a long time coming — one that is sure to save countless lives. While driving is a privilege that everyone should handle with great care, too many people act as though they can do anything (eat, drink alcohol, talk on a cell phone, apply makeup) and come away unscathed. That leads to accidents that could have easily been avoided. Our firm has represented car accident victims for over 20 years, and can attest to the variety of injuries people suffer, as well as the often nightmarish interactions with the other driver’s insurance company.
If you or your loved one is involved in a car accident with a distracted driver, find a West Virginia car accident attorney as soon as possible. You would have a good case for finding that driver negligent. You would argue that the driver had a duty to you and other drivers on the road to drive safely according to the rules of the road. The driver breached that duty by talking on a handheld cell phone or texting (even without a law specifically banning either practice, you could make the case that the driver was not paying attention to the road). The breach resulted in your injury — a collision. You suffered damage in the form of a broken collar bone, or a fractured spine, or an injured knee, or even worse. If you present a good case, the jury could award you damages — a money award — for medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage, and more.