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The Governor’s Highway Safety Association recently released a report showing that teen drivers make up the biggest category for drivers that were distracted during a fatal collision. 57% of the fatalities were the teen drivers, the other 43% includes other occupants, bicyclists, and pedestrians. 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 were reported as distracted at the time of a collision.
Distracted driving can include anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road for any amount of time. It not only puts the driver at risk, but everyone on the road at risk, as well. Distracted driving includes: eating, drinking, talking, reading, music, using a navigation system, cell phone use, and texting. Cell phone usage is the most common distraction for teens. While teens make up a larger percentage of distracted drivers, not all teens are distracted while driving. Beginning drivers tend to be more attentive to the road, but once their confidence rises, the chances of using a handheld device increases.
West Virginia has three primary laws involving cell phone usage. The first is a ban for handheld devices for all drivers. The second is a ban on texting for all drivers. The last is a ban on cell phone usage (handheld and hands-free) for all novice drivers. There are new apps available for cell phones that can send an “away message” when messages are received while an individual is driving. The app turns itself on and off by detecting how fast you’re going.
There are plenty of excuses to justify texting while driving like only texting at a stop light or sign, only reading the texts, or holding it near the windshield so it is easy to see the road. There is no good reason to text while driving. You are 23 times more likely to wreck when texting and driving at the same time. Turn it off. Put it down. Just drive. Remember, one text or call could wreck it all.