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The real problem of distracted driving

Drivers in West Virginia are forbidden by law to use handheld cell phones while driving. Distracted driving laws are set by the individual states, and most states have bans on texting or other cell phone use while driving.

Distracted driving is driving with the hands off the wheel, the eyes off the road or the mind off the task of driving. The act of engaging in any other activity while driving is a distraction. Laws against distracted driving primarily focus on handheld cell phone use. Texting is particularly dangerous because it involves a driver taking at least one hand off the wheel and taking their eyes off the road at the same time. Some states have laws specifically against texting while driving while others have laws that also include handheld voice calls under distracted driving bans.

People of all ages engage in distracted driving, but young drivers under the age of 20 represent the majority of distracted drivers. Despite laws against distracted driving, many people continue to use handheld cell phones while driving. The U.S. Department of Transportation promotes awareness and education to reduce distracted driving incidents.

The use of hands-free devices for phone calls while driving is legal in most states, but research suggests that this may be a distraction to drivers as well. Some states ban cell phone use entirely for bus drivers, drivers with learner's permits or drivers who are below a certain age.

When someone is injured in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver, an attorney could advise the injured person of their legal rights. A personal injury claim could be filed against a driver who was distracted while driving and involved in an accident.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Distracted Driving," accessed on Jan. 18, 2015

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