Area sees few texting ban citations

PARKERSBURG – In 2012, West Virginia became the 36th state to adopt a law banning texting while driving.

West Virginia law also prohibits cell phone use by drivers younger than 18 years of age who hold either a learner’s permit or an intermediate license.

Local law enforcement officials report few or no citations under the law passed in Senate Bill 211.

Sgt. Greg Collins of the Parkersburg Police Department said since the law went into effect on July 1, 2012, two citations have been issued.

According to records in the Wood County Magistrate Court, only two citations have been processed through that court, one from the Wood County Sheriff’s Department and one issued by the West Virginia State Police.

Police officials in Vienna and Williamstown report no citations have been issued.

According to the American Automobile Association, more than two-thirds, 69 percent, of licensed drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving within the last month despite nearly nine-in-10 respondents, 89 percent, believe other drivers using cell phones are a threat to their personal safety.

Motorists who fairly often or regularly used their cell phones over the last month also reported they engaged in additional risky behaviors. The research shows:

* 65 percent also reported speeding

* 44 percent also reported driving while drowsy

* 53 percent also reported sending a text or email

* 29 percent also drove without a seat belt

Conversely, drivers that reported never using a cell phone were much less likely to report additional risky behaviors, according to the study:

* 31 percent reported speeding

* 14 percent reported driving drowsy

* 3 percent reported sending a text or email

* 16 percent drove without a seat belt

Despite the near-universal disapproval of texting and emailing while driving, more than one-in-four licensed drivers, 27 percent, reported sending a text or email at least once in the past 30 days, and more than one-third, 35 percent, said they read a text or email while driving, AAA reported.

Young drivers between the ages of 16-24 were even more likely with more than half, 61 percent, reporting having read a text or email while driving in the past month. More than one-in-four, 26 percent, reported checking or updating social media while driving.

AAA safety advisers offer the following advice to drivers tempted to talk or text on their phone:

* Turn off the phone

* Put the phone out of reach

* Pull off to a safe location to call or text

* Turn off the notification chime that tempts you to respond

* Parents should not call/text teens at times when they will be driving

* Parents should review the phone bill to see if they are talking/texting at times when they are likely to be driving

* Remember if you look away from the road for four seconds (the average texting time), at 55 mph, you travel the length of an entire football field totally blind.

* Download an application that will auto-reply to messages when you are driving.