The Idaho ban on texting by all drivers goes into effect July 1, 2012. Violators will face an $85 fine.
The West Virginia law, which includes a ban on the use of all hand-held devices by drivers goes into effect July 1, 2012. Violators will get a citation for $100 on the first offense, with subsequent infractions increasing. If you get caught a second time the fine rises to $200 and if you are dumb enough to do it a third time the cost goes up to $300. Plus three points will be assessed against the driver’s license on the third and any subsequent violations.
Text messaging will be a primary offense in West Virginia, effective July 1, while driver hand-held cell phone use will be limited to secondary enforcement until July 1, 2013, when it becomes a primary offense.
It is significant that both these states chose to pass their laws during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, when national attention is (hopefully) being focused on what has become the leading threat to anyone who rides on the roads.
In December the National Transportation Safety Board released a report which showed that statistically speaking, distracted driving is responsible for more traffic fatalities that driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The NTSB suggested that every state immediately pass complete bans on the use of hand-held devices by drivers. Some states already had bans in place. Some states banned texting and driving, while others forced drivers to use hands-free devices for their cell phones, or completely banned the use of any and all devices by drivers.
with the addition of Idaho and West Virginia, there are now just 13 states which continue to allow drivers to use hand held devices, even text and drive. These states are facing mounting pressure to wake up and recognize that distracted driving is a serious threat to public safety, but so far, they are still sleeping.