FAIRMONT – The Manchin Injury Law Group has joined the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's anti-texting while driving campaign in an effort to stop distracted driving.
The Manchin Injury Law Group pledged its support to "One Text or Call Could Wreck It All" and hopes to help spread the message that distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves—but also a danger to everyone else on the road.
Tim Manchin said they hope to educate people about the dangers of distracted driving and also make people aware of the new law that will take effect July 1 that bans texting while driving and using hands-free devices for talking on a cell phone while driving.
"We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesn't stop most people from continuing to do it," Manchin said. "This effort is intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use and other distractions while driving. We hope that once people see the statistics and realize the danger involved, they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families and others on the road."
Manchin said they are putting together a presentation they want to take with them to schools in the area to teach students the dangers of distracted driving.
Taylor Downs said their goal is to promote safe driving.
"We want to educate people of how to drive safely and also to get them to use hands-free devices if they must talk on their phone while driving," Downs said.
Downs said they are going to be giving away a free Bluetooth device each week from the law group's Web site in an effort to promote hands-free driving.
In 2009 nearly 5,500 people were killed and one-half million more were injured in distracted driving crashes. That same year, 20 percent of injury crashes involved reports of distracted driving.
While anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, there is heightened concern about the risks of texting while driving because it combines all three types of distraction—visual, manual and cognitive.
The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education—the same activities that have curbed drunk driving and increased seat belt use.
"Every driver in West Virginia has a role in this effort," Downs said. "However, we especially want to reach out to parents with teen drivers because we know that statistically, the under-20 age group had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes."
The Manchin Injury Law Group's goal with this campaign is simple – save lives by getting drivers to remember that "One Text or Call Could Wreck It All."
"Distracted driving is an epidemic on America's roadways, and we're doing our part to help put an end to it," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "Texting and cell phone use while driving is extremely dangerous, and we know simply getting drivers to turn their phones off when they get behind the wheel will make our roads significantly safer. Efforts like this one will help us put an end to distracted driving, and we encourage your support of this program to help save lives in your community."
Manchin said they are hoping to promote awareness with the campaign to help make driving safer.
"While teenagers are new to driving and still have a lot to learn, we want everyone to not be distracted while driving," Manchin said. "We hope people will visit our Web site and take a look at the statistics and learn about the new law."
For more information on how to enter to win the Bluetooth device or for more information on the campaign, go to www.manchininjurylaw.com or www.wvinjurylawblog.com/distracted, or contact Manchin or Downs at 304-367-1862.