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Texting Is Not The Only Distraction You Need To Worry About

By: Shannon Houser, Erin Pulsanti
By: Shannon Houser, Erin Pulsanti

UPDATE 06/24/2012 7:44 PM

Days before the texting ban enforcement begins in the Mountain State officials are warning drivers about all types of distractions.

Statistics prove that distraction behind the wheel can lead to serious injury as well. In 2010 over 3,000 people died due to distracted driving, with another 416,000 injured because of it.

Research out of Monash University says drivers using hand held devices are 4 times more likely to crash and hurt themselves than drivers who don't talk on the phone.

Carnegie Mellon research say driving and using a cell phone can reduce attentiveness by 37%.

Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy says there will be times when drivers need to use their cell phones but asks motorists to use common sense before dialing.

"You can pull off the road. You can get off at a service station to do that emergency call," Sheriff Sandy explains. "You need to use common sense while driving."

Sheriff Sandy say everything from your G.P.S to iPod can be a distraction and asks all drivers to take extra precautions behind the wheel.

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It's something many of us do in the car, but officials say it's just as dangerous as drinking and driving, and, now if you text and drive, you're breaking the law.

"If you are texting while driving, it's a primary offense. Which means you can get pulled over for that," Parkersburg Police Sgt., Greg Collins, says.

This is according to a new law signed Tuesday by West Virginia's Governor, but it doesn't just include texting.

"Using your cell phone while driving will be a secondary offense. Which means you will have to commit another traffic infraction or law violation before you can be cited," Sgt. Collins explains.

Many people might think an officer can simply take someone's cell phone to prove they were using it. That's actually not the case. Police say when you text and drive, you're most likely committing other traffic violations, too, and that's grounds to pull you over.

"When someone is using their cell phone, particularly text messaging while driving, they frequently commit one traffic offense after another. They actually exhibit the same characteristics of a drunk driver," Sgt. Collins says.

Nancy Heredia says, "I think it's a good idea, because of all the accidents it causes when you're texting."

And statistics show accidents are only increasing because of technology use and distracted driving.

"I don't believe we should be distracted from driving while we're on the road," Dottie Dubar, says.

"There are two primary things that you need to do when you're driving. You need to keep your eyes on the road and you need to keep your mind on the road, and when you're texting, you're not doing either of those things," Sgt. Collins explains.

Law enforcement says it's going to be a long fight, but people need to start getting in the habit before it's too late.

David Benton says, "it's a good idea, no texting. I don't have a text phone, but if I had one, I wouldn't be texting."

Governor Tomblin is encouraging people across the Mountain State to sign his safe driving pledge. You can do so by clicking on the hot button.


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