Message is being sent

It’s been almost a year since texting while driving, or talking on a hand-held cell phone while behind the wheel, became illegal.

In the first 10 months of enforcement of the new laws, at least 125 people have been convicted of violations, according to data from the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the distracted driving legislation last year, which made texting while driving a primary offense under the state’s motor vehicle code. Using a hand-held cell phone while driving will become a primary offense in July.

It’s something many of us are still adjusting to, and some law enforcement departments may be taking the first year to serve as more of an educational period, offering warnings instead of full citations. However, some are out on the roads performing full enforcement, and that will be a good thing for everyone in the long run.

West Virginia State Police officials have said there has been a steep decline in texting drivers, and we’re sure the same will happen for those using their phones in a few months’ time.

It’s all about safety. That’s what we have to remember.

While behind the wheel, we are all responsible for ourselves, our passengers and those around us. A moment’s distraction for a driver – taking their eyes off the road for even a second – has the potential to lead to disaster for the driver and those around them.

We don’t need to be holding our phones while driving.

There are other options, including using hands-free devices if you absolutely must take a call, but most of the time it will be just as easy to wait until you reach your destination to return that call or text.

We thank our local and state police officers for their work to educate and enforce these new laws, and encourage all drivers to remember them well when heading out on the road.