West Virginia Rating: Caution

traffic-yellowWest Virginia needs improvement because of gaps in Advocates’ recommended optimal laws, as reported in the 2019 Roadmap Report.

Highway Safety Laws Needed

  • Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Rear)
  • Rear Facing Through Age 2 Law
GDL – Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit
  • GDL – Supervised Driving Requirement (Without DE Exemption)
  • GDL- Stronger Passenger Restriction
  • GDL – Age 18 for Unrestricted License

Current Optimal Highway Safety Laws

  • Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Front)
  • All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law
Booster Seat Law
  • GDL – 6-Month Holding Period Provision
  • GDL – Nighttime Driving Restriction Provision
  • GDL – Cell Phone Restriction Provision
Ignition Interlock Law
  • Child Endangerment Law
  • Open Container Law
  • All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction

*States are credited with having laws only if their laws meet Advocates’ optimal criteria

Hot Now: Graduated Driver Licensing Laws

In 2017, 35 people were killed in crashes involving young drivers in West Virginia.

The current GDL law in West Virginia includes the following components:

  • A three-stage licensing system beginning at age 15 for learner’s permit, age 16 for the intermediate stage, and age 17 for full licensure
  • A mandatory 6 month holding period for the learner’s permit stage
  • A minimum of 50 hours of supervised practice driving during the learner’s permit stage, at least 10 of which must be at night (none required for teens who complete driver education)
  • A prohibition on unsupervised nighttime driving between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. during the intermediate stage
  • A passenger restriction prohibiting passengers younger than age 20 for the first six months after licensure; no more than one passenger younger than age 20 is permitted for the second six months after licensure
  • A prohibition on non-emergency use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones for drivers younger than age 18 who are in the learner’s permit or the intermediate stage
  • A prohibition on texting while driving for drivers younger than age 18 who are in the learner’s permit or the intermediate stage

These changes are needed to improve West Virginia’s GDL law and meet optimal GDL provisions:

  • Require age 16 for entry into the learner’s permit stage
  • Extend all restrictions on teen drivers through age 17
  • Require 30-50 hours of supervised driving during the learner’s permit stage
  • Strengthen passenger restriction provision

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