WEIRTON - As statistics continue to reflect the dangers of texting and driving, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin spent time Monday talking to Weir High students and asking them to take a pledge to abstain from the activity.
Tomblin said anything that distracts drivers from keeping their eyes on the road is a danger not only to them but others. He said it only takes a second for things to change.
The majority of students in attendance raised their hands when asked about having a driver's license and even more said they texted. Few students admitted to texting and driving. Tomblin said even five years ago, there were as little as two or three people who were texting but now it is common practice.
MAKE THE PLEDGE — Weir High students signed the pledge board as part of a vow to abstain from texting and driving. Beginning July 1, texting and driving will become a primary offense in West Virginia, meaning officers can pull drivers over for it. Talking on a handheld device while driving will be a secondary offense. -- Angelina Dickson
DANGERS OUTLINED — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin spent time in Weirton on Monday talking to Weir High School about the dangers of texting and driving. In addition, he promoted his driver safety pledge and asked students to make the pledge to not text and drive. -- Angelina Dickson
"There are too many people getting hurt, so the West Virginia Legislature passed the Anti-texting Bill that will take effect July 1," he said. "Statistics show that a person is 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident (when texting)."
Beginning July 1, texting and driving will be considered a primary offense in West Virginia, meaning officers can pull drivers over if they suspect the person is texting and driving. Tomblin said the penalty for such an offense could amount to a ticket and fines. Talking on a handheld device while driving will be a secondary offense that could also result in fines and eventually the loss of driver's license.
Tomblin fielded questions regarding the law and being stuck in traffic or at a red light to which he said it is still breaking the law. He said if the motor is running and the vehicle is on the road, it's against the law to text.
"I'm asking you all to take a pledge with me today that you will not text and drive," he said. "If you need to do it, pull over off the road somewhere and really stick to it."
(Dickson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)