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1/29/2013 - West Virginia awarded grant to study effects of cellphone bans

West Virginia will research cellphone use among drivers.

In an attempt to curb the number of auto insurance claims and accidents caused as a result of using cellphones at the wheel, two legislators have committed more than $180,000 toward investigating how effective bans on wireless devices are when implemented at the state level.

West Virginia Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin recently announced that $182,000 will be devoted toward analyzing the effects of banning cellphones while operating a vehicle.

"Studying the effectiveness of state laws that limit or ban cellphone use while driving is an investment in the safety of our nation's roads," said Rockefeller, who serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. "Distracted driving hurts the driver, passengers, and everyone on the road, and we must do everything we can to prevent it."

He added that while the state has already implemented a prohibition on all texting and handheld phone use when driving, the grant the state was recently awarded will help further additional safety measures designed to prevent motorists from experiencing collisions resulting from diversions.

Mountaineers of WVU to conduct the study
Manchin indicated that a team from West Virginia University will be the ones who will perform the analysis, and he's confident that whatever they find will be beneficial to the state's motorists and the country at large.

"I have no doubt that the research team's thorough examination on cellphone use while driving can impact future laws that will help us make sure our roads we travel on every day are safe," said Manchin.

When the analysis is finished, WVU analysts say the results will be made public and policymakers can do with it what they will.

According to the latest numbers available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 416,000 people were injured as a result of distracted-driving crashes in 2010, while 3,100 people tragically died.

As of January, 10 states had bans in place on all handheld cellphones, which includes West Virginia, government data shows. Additionally, 33 states and the District of Columbia have restrictions on these mobile devices, such as not allowing teens to operate them while behind the wheel or professional motorists, such as bus drivers.


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