Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today joined state highway safety experts, law enforcement officers, legislators, local leaders, and business and community organizations at Tamarack along Interstate 77, to kick-off a statewide campaign reminding motorists of the new safe driving laws taking effect this month. Starting today, July 1, driving while talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device is a primary offense--law enforcement officers can and will pull over drivers and issue citations. Beginning July 9, it will also be a primary offense to drive or ride in a moving vehicle without wearing a seat belt.
"Distracted driving is a serious threat to roadway safety," Gov. Tomblin said. "During a period of seven days last month, Troopers issued 93 citations for texting while driving, 127 citations for reckless driving, and eight citations for collisions involving distracted driving. This law has been in effect for a year --it's time to put safety first. Turn it off. Put it down. Just Drive."
Last year Gov. Tomblin introduced legislation, and legislators passed Senate Bill 211, which made texting while driving a primary offense, and talking on a hand-held cellphone without a hands-free device a secondary offense. Today, the law expands to include, as a primary offense, talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device.
Earlier this year, the legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that makes not wearing a seatbelt in a moving vehicle a primary offense. This legislation is expected to annually save 17 lives, prevent 184 injuries, and save $42 million in accident related costs, like work loss and medical costs. Effective July 9, 2013, if you're in a moving vehicle and not wearing your seat belt, a law enforcement officer can ticket you--even if you're the passenger.
Motorists are encouraged to show their commitment to safe driving by signing Gov. Tomblin's Safe Driver Pledge at www.governor.wv.gov.