In West Virginia, and in many other states throughout the nation, it is illegal for drivers to use hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel. This means if you talk, text and/or take selfies, you run the risk the law enforcement will pull you over and issue you a ticket as a result of engaging in this hazardous behavior.

Distracted driving is responsible for killing thousands of people every year, and injuring even more. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 people died in 2017 in accidents involving distracted drivers.

What are the types of cellphone distraction?

Using a cellphone while driving creates three types of distractions: manual, visual and cognitive. Manual distractions require you to take your hands off the steering wheel, while visual distractions force you to take your eyes off the road. This happens when you are dialing a number, composing a text or reading through your social media. These distractions may include:

  • Listening to the radio or an audiobook
  • Handling children in the back seat
  • Using voice-activated technology
  • Talking with other passengers in the vehicle

Cognitive distractions occur when your brain attempts to concentrate on two complex tasks simultaneously. Rather than focus on both activities at once, your brain switches back and forth between the two. This leaves moments of time where you are not focused on the road at all, which could lead to a serious accident.

Are hands-free cellphones a safe alternative?

Many people use hands-free cellphones as an alternative to hand-held cellular devices. While they decrease or eliminate visual and manual distractions, they still act as a significant source of cognitive distraction.

All cellphones can decrease your ability to respond to certain hazards, including objects in the road, other drivers, animals, pedestrians, traffic signals and lights and bad weather conditions. The best way to minimize your distraction and stay safe on the road is to avoid using your cellphone altogether.