BECKLEY, W.Va. — State Police Superintendent Colonel Jay Smithers said Monday State Troopers won’t be taking advantage of the exemption in a new state law that allows for police officers to use hand-held cell phones while driving.

‘It’s been the policy of the West Virginia State Police since day one that our folks would not take advantage of the law enforcement exemption,” Smithers said. “So we’re going to comply just as anybody else would.”

Smithers talked about that compliance and enforcement of the new provision that makes using a hand-held cell phone a primary traffic offense after he had joined Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, state Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox and others at Tamarack in Beckley Monday for the unveiling of the “Just Drive” campaign.

“Distracted driving is a serious threat to roadway safety,” Gov. Tomblin said during the news conference. “During a period of seven days last month, Troopers issued 93 citations for texting while driving, 127 citations for reckless driving, and eight citations for collisions involving distracted driving. This law has been in effect for a year -it’s time to put safety first. Turn it off. Put it down. Just Drive.”

Col. Smithers said State Troopers have gone to hands-free devices as they patrol the state’s highways. As for the new provision that began Monday, he said discretion in enforcement would continue to be used just like it has for the texting ban during the past year.

“Our troopers are trained to enforce the laws as the situation dictates. They have discretion as always. So far it’s worked out very well for us,” he said.

The “Just Drive” campaign will be a statewide effort by the Department of Transportation to remind drivers of the new provisions. Failure to wear a seatbelt becomes a primary traffic offense next week, July 9.

Col. Smithers said he doesn’t believe the seatbelt change will be as difficult as hand-held cell phone use.

“I think we’ve won that battle. Most folks that you see now comply with that,” Smithers said. ‘It’s a rarity that we stop folks for any reason and they are not buckled up.”

Col. Smithers pointed out the new seatbelt law requires all passengers to be buckled up also.


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  • Magic Mike

    I think police officers have better things to do besides look for people on there cell phones.

  • Jim

    This is a feel-good law. Cell phone usage is #14 among causes of auto collisions. It is a very visible insignificant hazard. The new law just gives police yet another reason to stop and question citizens.

    • will

      Help us out Jim what are the other 13??

  • wvangler

    Why is it still legal for truckers to use CB radios? What is the difference between a cell phone on the ear and a CB in front of the face? Apparently the talking to someone is different if a black box is on the side vs in front.

  • DonaldH

    I just wish they would start enforcing just the simple, basic traffic laws again-- For one, YOU CAN'T TURN LEFT ACROSS A SOLID YELLOW LINE!!! and maybe if they would start issuing tickets again for PASSING ON THE RIGHT people would get the message that the left lane isn't just there for your driving preference.. It's called the "Fast" Lane or "PASSING" Lane for a reason and maybe people would stop driving the speed limit or below in it.. The rule of the road is: SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT-- not People driving the speed limit get in the left lane---

  • Lee

    So not only are the cops allowed to drive 100 mph when they are running late for lunch or wanting to get home, but they have an "exemption" from the cellphone law. As always, above the law.
    Since there is a "cell phone law", then there should also be a law against putting on make up, eating, drinking coffee, changing the radio station, looking at the gauges on the dashboard, looking in the rearview mirror, and driving around a nagging wife or a griping husband. Most of those are just as much, if not more, of a distraction of taking a call.
    I do agree with the texting law.
    I will answer my phone and make a call when I please...driving or not :)

    • will

      Hit the nail on the head!!

  • Wixcheew

    I also counted 39 drivers?? talking
    on their cell phone while in the car.
    One was passed by an officer
    (Chas. Police) You can't see it all
    just like an umpire(they are all the
    way blind)It is going to be hard to enforce but they have to bust as many as possible in order to save
    lives so parents will not have to
    bury their children instead of sending them to college. Parents
    should set an example and not do
    it either. One lady called her daughter and the daughter got creamed by a big truck while picking up the phone all her mom
    heard was the scream. NO MORE
    SADNESS!!!!!!!! Please stop I have
    I did not do it much anyway I pulled off the road to talk or see if it is
    an emergency!!!!!!

  • Wixcheew

    I saw a lady driving??? and she
    was using her cell phone plus she
    was motioning with her hands to
    the person she was talking to on the phone. That is weird. Want to know what is weirder? What was
    was she using to drive the car (her knees?)