State Senator Clark Barnes has introduced a bill that we have been urging the West Virginia Legislature to pass for years.
Senate Bill 131 would make it illegal for drivers to use handheld cell phones. Those who want to talk and drive would have to use a speaker phone system, which really isn't depriving anyone of using their phone at all.
We began promoting this idea years ago after watching too many drivers cut corners wide while steering with one hand and holding a phone with the other. It's also disconcerting when you see someone coming at you on an icy road with a cigarette in their left hand and a cell phone in their right.
Other states have passed similar laws after noting an upsurge in accidents caused by phoning and driving. In his "Barnestorming" column this week, Barnes says what finally convinced him was a report on accidents involving teenagers. More than one of every five accidents with teenaged drivers is thought to have been caused by cell phone usage. We suspect the stats aren't a whole lot better for adults, either.
Of course, you can expect to hear the usual clamor about taking people's rights away, but no one has a right to endanger others. This is a law that's overdue.