The time is up.
The State of West Virginia gave its residents a year grace period to talk on their phones while driving. Well, it wasn’t legal, but it was a secondary offense. An officer could pull you over for speeding or some other moving violation and cite you for talking on your cellphone. But they couldn’t pull you over solely for the offense.
It was intended to give drivers the opportunity to train themselves to drive without using their cellphones or purchase hands-free devices.
But as of July 1, the time was up. Talking on your cellphone became a primary offense.
And still we see people chatting away on their cellphones on highways, at intersections, cruising down the street. You see, because your eyes are drawn to the offense.
But we wanted a little hard data to show just how many people were talking on their cellphones.
So we sent our reporters to the streets to do a little investigative journalism. We identified four busy intersections in the county and asked each reporter to carefully observe traffic in one lane for a one-hour period, count the number of cars that passed and make a notation of each “distracted” driver.
Scientific? Probably not. But we believe it gives a good sample to start from.
During the morning rush hour, a reporter was stationed at Water and Buffalo streets in Mannington. Of the 232 drivers who passed by, 32 of them, or 15 percent, were on their phones without a hands-free device.
At lunchtime, a reporter watched the intersection of Fairmont Avenue and Seventh Street in Fairmont. Out of the 586 drivers who passed our reporter, 36 of them were talking or texting while driving, totaling about 6 percent.
The East Side fared a little better. During the evening rush hour, a reporter counted 394 cars that passed by with 17 drivers on their phones, or 4 percent, at the intersection of Morgantown and East Park avenues.
White Hall drivers had the best record with 3 percent of distracted drivers during the evening rush hour at the intersection of U.S. 250 and the access road to Walmart. Out of the 664 cars that passed, 21 drivers were on their phones.
The study wasn’t intended to promote one region of the county over the other. It’s entirely possible that at different hours of the day, another region would have had the most “offenders” pass by our stationed reporter.
The point we’re trying to make is that despite given one year and three weeks to get used to the distracted driving law, there are still many drivers throughout the county who have ignored it.
The consequences? If you’re talking financial ones, a citation for a first offense is $100; a second offense is $200; and third and subsequent offenses will each cost $300.
Is that fine worth chatting about how busy your day was at work or what items need to be purchased at the grocery store?
But if you are talking about other consequences, there’s not a phone call on Earth important enough to justify an injury or loss of life.
You see, they call it “distracted” driving for a reason. In the few seconds it takes to dig your phone out of your purse or pocket, to see who is calling and to answer that call, the time it takes to dial a 10-digit number, anything could change within your environment that you are unaware of. A pedestrian could enter an intersection. A light could change. A car in front of you could suddenly stop.
The distraction of the phone could stop you from quickly reacting and adjusting to your surroundings. And those few seconds could end up costing a heck of a lot more than a $100 fine.
So our plea is to put down your phone while your car is in drive. Avoid the temptation by silencing the phone while driving. Pull over in cases of calls that cannot be missed. Invest in a hands-free device and use it safely.
We hope this particular law will be respected and lives will be saved because of it.
The time is up.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
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Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions
This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year
It’s happening again.
It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.
County honors men who gave all in helping their community
The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.
State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less
The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
Let’s not do that again.
Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past
Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.
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- Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives