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Despite ban, teen cell phone usage while driving increases

Posted January 14, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— North Carolina law prohibits teenagers under 18 from using cell phones and texting while they drive.

But since the ban went into effect in 2006, the number of teens who say they do so has actually increased slightly from 11 percent to 11.8 percent, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Despite ban, teen cell phone usage while driving increases Despite ban, teen cell phone usage while driving increases

The number of citations teens have received, however, have been minimal.

In 2007, officers across the state issued 50 tickets to teens. Of those, Wake County had three citations, Johnston County had one, and Orange and Durham counties had none.

Teens admit to breaking the law, and researchers say it's a dangerous trend.

"The more they tell us not to do it, we do it, anyway," said Brooke Holt, a high school student who recently turned 18. "I've done it a couple of times. I'll be honest, I've run off the road while texting."

"Younger drivers, we know from our research, are at a higher risk of crashing than any other age," said Eric Rodgman, with the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. "Their attitude is that they don't see themselves as being a risk to get involved in a crash or be injured," Rodgman said.

Police say it difficult to catch and difficult to tell if a driver is under 18.

Rodgman says the rush is on to get even more research with teens especially in the area of texting.

There are exceptions to the law. Teens can dial 911 or their parents in an emergency. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia restrict both handheld and hands-free phones for young drivers.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • nowon_yuno Jan 15, 2009

    "By the way I write a lot of citations, traffic is my specialty."

    Yah that low hanging fruit is always easier to reach and less of a challenge

  • sayruh23 Jan 15, 2009

    Texting while driving is dangerous no matter how old you are. If there's going to be a ban, the ban should be for everyone, not just teens. Honestly, the whole thing is pointless if cops can't really enforce the ban because they can't tell on sight if the driver is under 18.

  • dlb800 Jan 15, 2009

    You want to fix the problem, make the punishment serious. Get caught texting or using the phone while under 18, seize the vehicle, and sell it at auction. That should stop it, or at least reduce the problem significantly.

  • Redneck Fun Jan 14, 2009

    You know part of the problem is the police can only charge this if they pull the vehicle for a different reason and then find out the age of the driver. I was an officer in Pinehurst last year and Raeford this year and I have only been able to charge this once. By the way I write a lot of citations, traffic is my specialty.

  • woodrowboyd2 Jan 14, 2009

    i was a teen and didnt have a home phone
    phone useage is in the head
    most calls are not important

    it makes me angry to see adult drivers and they have become many that drive and talk.
    when they make a turn it takes them twice as long coz they are doing it useing one hand and most are laughing and talking
    america sure would be lost if they came up the way i did
    i thought also the cell phone was made lawful for people who used it as a part of their job
    most people diel a number then start the car and talk all the way to work and home dont belive me start watcing and learn america has become addicted to the telephone i think higher rates and less mimute packages would surely make it less used

  • OhYeah Jan 14, 2009

    They should make this a law for everybody regardless of age. Every time I hear of someone young around here running off the road, over correcting, flipping their vehicle and causing injury I wonder if they were texting. Remember the train engineer who missed the red light because he was texting....and all the lives lost last year? How sad...and it's something we can control now.

  • EZeegoing Jan 14, 2009

    No brainer, if you was a fearless teen would you pay attention to the law ?? Same with fearless reckless driving, speeding, showing off and impressing each other.

  • joco cruiser Jan 14, 2009

    Good thing the parents are teaching their kids to obey laws.

  • Travised Jan 14, 2009

    These laws only apply to Cell phones. Why don't they ban ALL two way communications devices? That way it would be a blanket law. However they insist on targeting the cell phone. It's not the bad seed they make it out to be.

    Using the OLD cell phone when I was in highschool (the bricks) I never had problems. I didn't, and still don't talk on it every second. Back then I mainly had it for emergency situations.

    I'm suprised the LEO's can get away with all their "tools" (laptop, radios, displays) in the cars. In a civilian car they would call those distractions.

  • Common Sense Man Jan 14, 2009

    50 across the state huh? That's not very many. I wonder what the numbers were in 2008. I've actually written one. He was trying to text while in a curve and he looked like a drunk driver.