West Virginia Gets Tough on Distracted Driving

INWOOD, W.Va. -Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today traveled the state to discuss his new legislation banning texting and handheld cellphone use while driving. The Governor spoke to high school students in Inwood, Bridgeport and Bluefield about the bill and encouraged them to sign his new safe driver pledge. Governor Tomblin signed the pledge himself, committing to use only hands-free devices while driving, and then unveiled a web page where all West Virginia drivers can make the same commitment.

“Both the bill and my safe driver pledge are about making our roads safer,” Gov. Tomblin said. “I spoke with several heartbroken families today who lost loved ones in car accidents caused by distracted drivers, and I assured them I was doing everything possible to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future. Unfortunately, cellphones cause a real distraction-a distraction we can’t afford on our roadways.”

Gov. Tomblin encourages all West Virginians to sign his safe driver pledge:

I pledge to put my safety and the safety of others first.

I will not text while I am driving b/c it cn w8.

I will always use a hands-free cellphone while driving because I am a responsible driver.

I will do my part in keeping our roadways safe.

The safe driver pledge is available here and online at www.governor.wv.gov.

The legislation was created by Senate Bill 211. Effective July 1, 2012, texting while driving will be a primary driving offense and talking on a handheld cellphone will be a secondary offense. Effective July 1, 2013, talking on a handheld cellphone will become a primary offense.

“The operating mission statement of the West Virginia State Police stresses our commitment to creating and maintaining a safe environment for motorists traveling on the State’s roadways. The recent passage of legislation pertaining to texting and cellular phone usage while driving a motor vehicle enhances our efforts to ensure such an environment,” said West Virginia State Police Col. C. R. “Jay” Smithers. “Distracted driving increasingly seems to be the underlying cause of many traffic crashes, not only in West Virginia but throughout the country. This new law should be successful in preventing a great deal of loss to both property and human lives. I applaud Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and the Legislature for their continued commitment to highway safety.”

The Governor presented finger guards, which were supplied by AT&T and make it impossible to text when they are worn, to the superintendent and students at Musselman, Bridgeport and Bluefield high schools.