Distracted Drivers

Beginning this week, you’d better buckle up and hang up while you’re driving in West Virginia. Two long-needed measures became law on Monday.

One allows law enforcement officers to pull motorists over for using cell phones without hands-free devices. First offenders can be fined $100.

Good.

“Distracted driving” – motorists gabbing or texting on their phones – is dangerous. It causes accidents, sometimes fatal.

Another measure that took effect Monday is a new law allowing police to pull motorists over for not wearing seat belts. Before, drivers could be ticketed for the offense only if they had been pulled over for something else.

Local law enforcement agencies may be lenient during the first few days the new statutes are in effect. After that, they ought to come down hard on offenders – especially the distracted drivers.

Conscientious travelers should not have to worry about being hit by motorists who think their often-inconsequential conversations or text messages are more important than highway safety.