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North Carolina Considering Hands-Free Law

man texting while driving

It’s no secret or surprise that distracted driving is a major issue on North Carolina’s roads. In 2018 alone, there were 123 deaths in the state attributed to distracted driving. While there are any number of reasons why a driver can get distracted, such as eating, looking at scenery or even dealing with kids in the car, no reason is more common — or dangerous — than cell phone use.

On average, it takes about five seconds to read a text. In that time, your car will travel about 100 yards if you’re driving at 55 miles per hour. To put it in perspective, you’re driving blind for about the length of a football field. Because of that, cell phone use caused about 1.5 million collisions across the country in 2017.

North Carolina does have certain laws on the books prohibiting specific uses of cell phones while driving. But many lawmakers and residents don’t think these laws are tough enough. There is a new law being considered that would make it illegal to use any handheld devices while driving.

At Auger & Auger, we appreciate this effort by the North Carolina legislature. We greatly appreciate any steps taken to reduce the number of wrecks on the state’s roads. But if you are involved in a collision, our Charlotte car accident lawyers are here to help you. Call us at (800) 559-5741 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.

Current Distracted Driving Laws in North Carolina

Under current law, most drivers can still hold their phones to talk while they’re driving. The exceptions are drivers under 18 years old, as well as commercial vehicle drivers. However, no driver is allowed to “manually enter multiple letters or text” while driving. This includes texting, emailing, sending instant messages or any other kind of text input.

For most drivers, the penalty for texting and driving is a $100 fine, plus the costs of court. There are no license points assessed, and it’s unlawful for insurance companies to increase your premiums because of this violation. For bus drivers caught texting and driving, a violation of this law carries a Class 2 misdemeanor charge and a fine of no less than $100.

The Newly Proposed Laws

Like many states in recent years, North Carolina legislators are considering making it illegal to hold your phone at all while you’re driving. This would include texting, holding your phone to make phone calls, taking photos or videos, or otherwise using your phone in a way that requires you to hold it.

In addition, this law would make cell phone use while driving a primary offense. That means drivers could be pulled over just for phone usage. Under current law, illegal cell phone use is a secondary offense, meaning there must be another reason, with cell phone usage being added on to the ticket.

The bill would still allow for hands-free usage, such as making a call on speaker when your phone is mounted. Because of this fact, some legislators don’t believe the bill would truly be effective.

“The problem is the conversation. Are we as a legislature willing to legislate no phone calls while you’re driving? And if we’re not willing to do that, then we’re not going to solve the problem,” said Republican Representative Michael Speciale from Craven County. He is voting against the bill.

Others point to the success that other states, especially Georgia, have had since passing similar bills. Since the passing of the bill in Georgia, typing on phones while driving has dropped 22%. In addition, traffic fatalities dropped 16% within two years of a similar law being passed.

Consult a Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Today

While the new law is still being debated in the North Carolina House and Senate, texting and driving will continue to be a major issue on our roads. If you are involved in a car wreck with a distracted driver, you have legal rights. Contact a Charlotte car accident lawyer at Auger and Auger today for a free consultation by calling (800) 559-5741 or filling out our convenient online contact form.

Posted In: Car Accidents

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