NC driver safety program thinks texting law should be stricter
Posted October 23, 2014
In effect since 2009, North Carolina's texting-while-driving ban does not prohibit drivers from using a cellphone or mobile device behind the wheel if their vehicles are completely stopped.
But the Governor's Highway Safety Program – a state-funded initiative focusing on driver-safety awareness – would like to see the law changed to include just that so that more drivers will put away their devices or use hands-free technology while at a stop light, at a stop sign or sitting in traffic.
"It's not really an ideal situation, as far as safety is concerned," Highway Safety Program Director Don Nail said.
The problem, he said, isn't when cars are stationary. It's when a traffic signal changes or a vehicle ahead of the texting driver takes off.
"A lot of people don't stop the text because the light turns green," Nail said. "They probably go ahead and finish their text."
Nail adds that drivers sometimes get so wrapped up in what's on the phone that they don't even notice the light change.
"Some people probably have that happen to them and hear a horn blow and take off before they even look up," he said.
That can lead to rear-end crashes.
"The best scenario would be to have a hands free-bill in North Carolina," Nail said. "That way, it takes away that distraction out of the person's hand. That’s where you really get into a lot of problems, I think."
Because the Governor's Highway Safety Program is state-funded, it can't lobby lawmakers for a change in law.
"We try to educate the public of our current law, but we really try to get them to put the phone down," Nail said.
There have been talks of tougher texting law, but Nail said he doesn't know of any bills being crafted.
"Looking at other states and what they’ve experienced – if they have a hands-free law – it seems to be more successful, from what I’ve observed, than the law that we have in place."