Local Politics

House committee approves texting ban for drivers

Posted April 14, 2009

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— A state House of Representatives judiciary committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would make it illegal for drivers to write or respond to text messages while driving.

Bill aims to halt text messaging by drivers Bill aims to halt text messaging by drivers

North Carolina has already banned cell phone use and texting for bus drivers and teenagers under 18. But House Bill 9 would prohibit the practice for all drivers, regardless of age.

The full House could vote on the bill as early as next week, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Hoke, said.

If it were to become law, drivers would have to either pull over or wait until they have stopped their vehicle before they could text or e-mail. Violators would be fined at least $100.

"My bottom line is safety on the highways," Pierce said.

Ron Wyatt, president of a local chapter of the North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police, said that, although he believes typing or reading on small screens is a major distraction, enforcing the law would prove difficult.

Unless a driver is holding a phone in plain view, an officer generally would not be able to see what the driver is doing, he said.

"It's not going to do anything," Wyatt said. "It's a feel-good bill to make the general public feel good that we're trying to do something, lawmaker-wise, to protect those of us who don't text."

Pierce said he believes there is tremendous value in just sending a message.

"It's all about safety, and I think we have a lot of law-abiding citizens," he said. "If people know it's illegal, we'd hope they'd abide by those rules."

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, text messaging is banned for all drivers in 10 states and the District of Columbia.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • ConcernedNCC Apr 15, 2009

    Unless they ban cell phone usage entirely, this is an unenforceable law. How can they determine if you were dialing (which would still be legal) or texting (evil)? If you stop before sending, there's no record.

    But if you get in an accident and it can be shown that one of the persons was using the phone at the time, and a supoena of phone records shows it was a text, then the texter becomes responsible for the accident regardless of the other circumstances.

  • sayitoutloud Apr 15, 2009

    chfdcpt: I got beside an Apex officer the other day and he was reading WRAL on line while driving his cruiser down 55. I agree with you, how is it any different?

  • Local_NC_Native Apr 15, 2009

    dcatz: Where's a good source that wouldn't get tracked back to me?

  • time4real Apr 15, 2009

    how about creating & enforcing a NO CELL PHONE law while driving period! I am so sick of driving behind, mostly women, with a cell phone jammed in their ear, flapping their gums and not driving the speed limit! Either get off the phone or pull over and get out of the way of people who aren't as important as you and can actually drive somewhere without the world needing to contact them for 20 minutes!

  • FE Apr 15, 2009

    Too many people around here still can't figure out the need to turn on your headlights when it's raining (it IS the law!) or just to be seen in early morning or late evening.

    The cell phone/texters just see things in their "It's only about ME!" perspective and simply don't care abount driving unsafely and/or putting other drivers at risk.

    And I agree the proposed law is virtually unenforceable.


  • OLD PIRATE 2 Apr 15, 2009

    Party Puppets hang together. This is what our legislature is doing on their daily perdiem...no wonder they want to have long terms.

  • LocalYokel Apr 15, 2009

    Great steps so far. Now we just need a ban for ALL drivers talking on cell phone. I don't care if you have a headset. I don't want to be killed, injured, or have my property damaged by you when you are focused on talking/dialing while you should be focused on driving alone.

  • IzzMad2016 Apr 14, 2009

    "I'm not going to stop texting as I drive. I can do it safely. This is a dumb law."

    Whether a person is texting or whatever, anytime you take your eyes off the road when your vehicle is in motion you're putting yourself and others at risk.

  • hollywoodbruce Apr 14, 2009

    just more and more and more government control. we need to do like the governor of texas. while you're at it tax gas and cigs more and tell us where we can and cant smoke.

  • Six String Apr 14, 2009

    Probably a good idea, but unenforceable. Will they put signs at all highway entrances into the state so that out of state drivers can't plead ignorance? Can anyone name the other 10 states that have a similar law?