Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner Pat Reed announced this week that roadway fatalities in West Virginia are down 18 percent for 2014, compared to previous years. Commissioner Reed is also Governor Tomblin’s appointed Representative for Highway Safety, and said changes in driver behavior and awareness due to recent legislation may be the key factors in this significant decrease from 332 in 2013 to 271 in 2014.
In 2012, the Legislature passed Governor Tomblin’s distracted driving legislation, which bans texting while driving and is a primary enforcement offense. In 2013, West Virginia’s seat belt law was changed to become a primary enforcement law. In addition, the distracted driving legislation added primary enforcement to prohibit hand held cellphone use while driving, in addition to the ban on texting already in place.
Commissioner Reed believes that these key pieces of safety legislation, as well as public information awareness programs such as “Click It or Ticket” for seat belts and “Turn it Off. Put it Down. Just Drive” for distracted driving, have significantly contributed to the decrease in fatalities on West Virginia’s roadways. “Losing even one life is too many,” she said, “but knowing that we are moving in the right direction towards our goal of zero fatalities is encouraging.”
Bob Tipton, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, has been following fatal crash reports for 2015, and confirms West Virginia is still showing a continued decrease in roadway fatalities.
For more information, please call the Governor’s Highway Safety Program at 304-926-2509 or visit the DMV web site at www.dmv.wv.gov.