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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."


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  • We are all in this together... Oct 24, 2014

    Police don't enforce the no-texting-while-driving law because it's hard to get convictions. The driver can tell the judge, "I wasn't texting, I was making a call." It's too time consuming for the prosecution to prove otherwise. Last year, more than 6,000 people were killed by drivers texting behind the wheel. We need to stop this NOW.


    When your officers pull a person for texting-while-driving, have them CONFISCATE the phone as EVIDENCE. Tell the driver they'll get it back when the case is up for trial 2-3 months from now!

    Make that one procedural change and watch how fast teenagers quit this stupid habit! It won't matter if the judge tosses the case! They will go insane without their precious phones.

    And yes, more teens do this than adults. Study after study finds texting while driving to be MORE dangerous than drunk driving. The reason? At least with drunk driving, SOMEONE is driving the car!

  • Vietnam Vet Oct 24, 2014

    I am getting so sick and tired of the Legislature wanting to pass laws to dictate how we live our lives, when simple common sense should suffice! Lots of folks think they can multitask when they aren't able to walk and chew gum at the same time. You can't legislate responsibility or common sense, and these laws are difficult to enforce at best!!

  • lprop Oct 24, 2014

    Is it just a ban or is it a law?

  • David Collins Oct 24, 2014
    user avatar

    You can always tell if someone is texting or on their phone by way they drive. Swerving back and forth. Drifting across the driving lane to the point they have an accident. Speeding or slowing down. Sitting at the light well after it turns green like 30 seconds to over a minute.
    Just plain ban texting and talking on cell phones (including hands-free).

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    and half the people behind don't make it through the light, but they do and that's the only ones that really count.

  • George Herbert Oct 24, 2014
    user avatar

    Every day as I leave my office, I see someone texting while stopped at a light. The good ones anticipate when the light will change and put down their phones before it does. The not-so-good ones are a few seconds behind. The bad ones keep texting and driving after the light turns green.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    It would be worth it.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Looking for a song on their iphone or playing a game is less distracting than texting?

    "It's amazing how the average IQ in America being below 100 is easily proven everyday."

    I think you just backed up exactly what you said there!

  • rushbot Oct 24, 2014

    me too!!!

    View quoted thread

    the problem is that would stop passengers from using their phones...

  • Doug Hanthorn Oct 24, 2014
    user avatar

    What we need is cell phone blockers in all cars that will only allow outgoing calls to 911. The cell phone blocker should also answer any incoming calls and announce to the caller that the number they are dialing is inside a moving vehicle and unavailable. Needs work, but it's a start. Maybe once we get these self-driving cars from Google, etc., the car can be programmed to safely pull off the road if it detects and cell phone activity.