In 1951, when few homes in West Virginia had television, the Legislature banned drivers from watching video devices as they drove. Call it cutting-edge law for cutting-edge technology.
Now, 62 years later, the law banning video devices in cars within eyesight of drivers could make driving more hazardous.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has toyed with the idea of requiring all new automotive vehicles to have back-up cameras so drivers can see behind them when they drive in reverse. It's estimated that would save 100 lives each year.
Many companies already make these cameras an option for a new car.
West Virginia law makes using those back-up cameras illegal, as drivers could not watch their dashboard screens to see what the cameras were showing. The law also makes it illegal to use global positioning system equipment.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that amends the 1951 law to permit drivers to use their back-up cameras and GPS.
The change is a reminder of how much safer cars have become since the days of chrome and fins. Airbags, seat belts and turn signals are among the many features that have become standard.
Lawmakers need to adapt the law to accommodate changes in technology.