"Ticketing Texters" - A 13 News Special Report - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

"Ticketing Texters" - A 13 News Special Report

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Distracted driving - including texting - is #1 cause of crashes. Distracted driving - including texting - is #1 cause of crashes.
613 Texting and driving tickets were issued in WV last year. 613 Texting and driving tickets were issued in WV last year.
First texting ticket is $100; 2nd is $200 fine First texting ticket is $100; 2nd is $200 fine

You see them everywhere. People texting while driving in West Virginia -- outlawed nearly 4 years ago.

"I've almost run a couple off the road because all of a sudden, they steer right in front of you because they are not paying attention to what they are doing," said  George Mitchell, a driver from Braxton. How dangerous is it in your estimation? "I think it's very dangerous," Mitchell added.

Walkers agree.

"I was walking across Capitol Street and a car just ran a red light and they almost hit me because they was texting and driving," said pedestrian Mary Baker, of Charleston.

Despite the prevalence of texting and driving in West Virginia, relatively few tickets were written in the first 3 years of enforcement.

In 2013 - 114 texters were ticketed; the next year 302 people were cited for texting and driving; and last year 613 were ticketed. Over three years, that's an average of 1 texting and driving ticket per day, in the Mountain State. Many people  want more enforcement.

"Definitely should be getting more tickets. I definitely think it would cause people to be more cautious and be more mindful of texting and driving which would help with the pedestrian issue," said Hannah Roberts, a pedestrian.

One person who was ticketed not once, but twice for texting and driving,  agreed to speak with us as long as we did not identify her.

"I couldn't believe that it was happening for a second time, but I realized I had to stop this behavior. It was becoming dangerous; it was becoming expensive," the woman we call, "Texting Tammy."

A near collision, while texting, finally made her stop.

"It's very scary and it's something that after you realize the near-miss, you realize that you cannot text and drive," she said.

People can now install jamming devices in cars, that will block drivers from texting. And drivers like "Tammy" have turned off audio alerts, so she isn't tempted to grab her phone when a text comes in.

"The strongest message we can send to the public is, is not to text and drive. Do not make the mistake that could kill somebody, hurt yourself or injure somebody seriously," said "Tammy."

"A spokesman for the Governor's Highway safety program says distracted driving - including texting - is now the number one cause of crashes, in the Mountain State," said Mark Curtis, 13 News Political Reporter.

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