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Lawmakers look at restricting cell phones behind the wheel

Posted February 7, 2011

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— Three bills currently on the table in the General Assembly would restrict the use of cell phones while driving.

The proposals are gaining traction as more and more car wrecks involve a driver who was on the phone behind the wheel.

Earlier this month, State Senator Charlie Dannelly (D-Mecklenburg) introduced Senate Bill 36, which would make it illegal to use a cell phone for any purpose while driving. Dannelly said the importance of this bill is highlighted by a horrible crash in Greensboro last year, when a tractor trailer slammed into a car and killed two children.

The driver of a tractor trailer was using a cell phone, Dannelly said.

"While you're driving an automobile, don't hold a cell phone in your hand," Dannelly said.

He doesn't believe the bill will pass because it bans any and all digital media use, even hands-free devices.

"The bill is not going to go forth as it is," he said. "The auto industry would go crazy."

Still, he said, people need to be more aware of the risks of any electronic device that might distract them from the road. He expects the restrictive language banning hands-free technology will be stripped from the bill, leaving a version he and other lawmakers can discuss.

State Senator Charlie Dannelly Legislature looks at banning cell phones while driving

"Things that will encourage people to use ear buds and Bluetooths and speaker phones and other things to get their hands off the device and back on the steering wheel is a good idea," said House Speaker Thom Tillis.

William Blow uses a hands-free device while driving. He hopes more people will opt to go hands-free or that the law will force them.

"I get a bit bothered by folks (who) are riding with the phone to their face. They can't see out their peripheral. They're just all over the road," he said.

House Bill 31, sponsored by Garland Pierce, also would make it illegal to use any form of digital media, including hands-free devices, while driving. Pierce sponsored a second, similar House bill that would allow hands-free technology.

Drivers would get a $100 fine for violating the law as it is written. All three bills have a proposed start date of Dec. 1, 2011.

Talking on a cell phone is already illegal for drivers under 18. Texting while driving is illegal for all drivers.

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  • jlsmith4758 Feb 9, 2011

    "Worland, "Your Obama administration has been on a media blitz for months trying to outlaw all cell phone and GPS devices in vehicles."

    Blatent lie, go pedel your racist lies elsewhere."

    Dear Mr. Junkyard... What about that comment is racist? Race is nowhere in it. Maybe you are the racist for calling it out because someone said something negative about the president who happens to be black. You made this about race. Not him. Apparently you believe that not blindly following a black man makes you racist? Maybe the fact that you do blindly follow a man because of his skin color makes YOU a racist. You my friend are the problem with this world. Racism wouldn't be half the problem it is if it weren't for people bringing it up all the time and blaming everything on it.

  • junkyard Feb 8, 2011

    Worland, "Your Obama administration has been on a media blitz for months trying to outlaw all cell phone and GPS devices in vehicles."

    Blatent lie, go pedel your racist lies elsewhere.

  • Bendal1 Feb 8, 2011

    Well, here's the study I was talking about. It was conducted back in 2003; imagine how much worse the situation is now.

    http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leon/409as2006/wong/visualattention.pdf

  • shortcake53 Feb 8, 2011

    Sounds like a lot of you would never have made it a couple of decades ago. I hate this "gimme, gimme,gimme" attitude. Talk about spoiled and self indulgent. How on earth would these individuals have functioned if they had grown up without all these stupid gadgets? My guess is, not very well.

  • bulbous Feb 8, 2011

    saying cell phones don't distract you while driving sounds like the alcoholic who can't admit he has a problem

  • wildgentle1nc Feb 8, 2011

    Some people can't even walk and chew gum at the same time. Some people can't drive no matter what, it doesn't matter how many distractions or no distractions they have while driving. Just because of a few bad apples you don't need to cut down the whole tree. For the majority of people we're able to drive with or with distractions and make the correct decisions when driving with distractions. If we continue to let government dictate what we can and cannot do there will be nothing left for us to decide on our own cause the government has decided it for us and turned us into nazi robots.

  • cary1969 Feb 8, 2011

    i'd rather see them ban people driving with dogs in their lap first

  • flyingcheetah92 Feb 8, 2011

    "I still think it's just another revenue-generating piece of legislation thought up by a nitwit Bev crony. Something else to take money out of our pocket and put it in theirs..........." Cariannestanly

    It's fairly simple to get around the part where they nickel and dime you in the law though. You just have to follow it. The same goes for every piece of "revenue-generating" legislation, if you follow it than you don't have to pay. Thats just money that is coming back around to you somehow or another.

  • kcbsn Feb 8, 2011

    however calling someone on the phone during a late-night commute has saved my life many a time when I'm exhausted and almost fall asleep at the wheel. I think THAT is way more dangerous than simply talking on the phone, especially since so many people have speaker phones and head set options they can use now.
    ajmac09

    As a nurse who used to take call all hours of the night, I have to agree that a phone call has probably kept me safe during travel to and from the hospital many times.

  • cariannestanley Feb 8, 2011

    What are they going to try and take away from us next? Cup holders? Plastic Food Lion bags? Socialism at its finest. Leave my cell phone alone. If you can't drive and talk, then don't but don't tell me how to conduct my business while I'm in my car. I still think it's just another revenue-generating piece of legislation thought up by a nitwit Bev crony. Something else to take money out of our pocket and put it in theirs...........

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