W.Va. Board of Education Cautions Motorists Against Distracted Driving As Schools Open Statewide

August 17, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – With many schools across the state scheduled to open this week, the West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education want to remind motorists to exercise extra caution.  

Each year in West Virginia, about 224,000 students climb aboard 3,700 buses that travel more than 48 million miles to and from school.

“We ask motorists to be extremely cautious and to obey the bus signals, while the students are being loaded and unloaded from the bus,” said state Superintendent Jorea Marple. “School buses, by all measures, are the safest motor vehicle on the highway. But in this electronic age, distracted driving is leading to more and more accidents. It is our responsibility as parents, students, bus operators, motorists and school administrators to provide a safe ride for our children.”

The West Virginia Board of Education took steps at its August meeting to address distracted driving among young people by updating state driver education content standards.

Recent updates to Policy 2520.8, Next Generation Driver Education Content Standards and Objectives for West Virginia were suggested by teachers during the West Virginia Safety and Driver Education Conference in March. Teachers who worked on the proposed changes said the growing use of cell phones, GPS, and other technologies while driving has made distractive driving an issue soon to surpass driving under the influence as the major cause of car crashes among teenagers, accounting for 25 percent of all accidents, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Distracted driving is an epidemic on our roadways,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said recently. “Teens are especially at risk. In 2009, the highest proportion of distracted drivers in fatal crashes was under the age of 20.”

Teens in West Virginia and across the country are recognizing the dangers and taking a stand against distracted driving. One such organization is Generation tXt, a youth group based in Tulsa, Okla., that uses peer-to-peer education to get its message out: “Texting while driving just isn't cool.” Read more about Generation tXt at fastlane.dot.gov.

To see when schools open in your community, check your county website, or the WVDE website at http://wvde.state.wv.us/ed_directory/, and then click on your individual school or county. You also can sign up for e-mail or text alerts when schools are closed by going to http://wvde.state.wv.us/closings/.

For more information, contact the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.

--The West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) are committed to ensuring all students in the state are college and career ready when they graduate from a public school. What West Virginia students are learning in school exceeds national and international standards. Through the WVDE’s 21st century learning plan called “Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.,” West Virginia is seeing better student performance on the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2 (WESTEST2); the SAT and the ACT college entrance exams; the job skills assessment called Work Keys given to career and technical education students; and in a high school graduation rate that exceeds the national average.

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