New Law on Texting and Driving
by Rachel Terzo
Distracted driving now has another comrade-text messaging. Parkersburg residents should know that a new law has been passed to ban texting and driving, and law enforcers will be on the look out for offenders.
Graphic, violent commercials showing the result of texting and driving have been airing for a few years now, and statistics that show the number of traffic accidents related to texting while driving are constantly on the rise. Lawmakers say that in this day in age, the number of reported car accidents are greater due to texting while driving for a DUI.
On Feb. 17, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill banning texting and driving. The legislation (HB2555) would make texting while driving a secondary traffic offense, rather than a misdemeanor, as originally proposed.
Secondary offense means the officer would only be able to ticket the subject for texting and driving if they were pulled over for something else beforehand, such as speeding. Primary offense means an officer may pull a driver over if he or she sees that the driver is texting.
Since Ohio has not yet jumped on board with this proposal, Belpre officials are considering holding a city ordinance to bring the law to their town. However, Belpre law officers would aim to make the law punishable as a primary offense with up to (but not limited to) a $150 price tag, as opposed to W.Va.'s secondary offense law.
Some law officials feel that the bill is too vague, and that citizens aren’t going to take the law seriously if it is not made to be a primary offense misdemeanor rather than a traffic violation. WVU Parkersburg head Security Officer Al Collins feels that “the anti-texting and driving law should absolutely be a primary offense. Drivers should take personal responsibility when behind the wheel.” Captain of the Wood County Sheriff Department Mark King also agrees that the law should be primary. “There are reasonable exceptions for cell phone use under the bill, and I agree with those,” he said. Some of those exceptions include answering and ending a call.