Legislation requiring hands-free phones while driving gains steam

Posted March 21, 2011

— A House committee is expected to discuss Wednesday making the use of a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving illegal in North Carolina.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have banned drivers from using cell phones, and House Bill 44 appears to have bipartisan support.

"I certainly think anything that will encourage people to use earbuds and Bluetooth and speaker phones and other things to get their hands off the device and back on the steering wheel is a good idea," House Speaker Thom Tillis said.

Some drivers disagreed.

"I think it would cause a lot of issues. I think a lot of people wouldn't like it, myself included," Daniel Wolfe said.

Wolfe said he keeps his phone on the seat next to him while he drives.

"If I got a phone call to make, I'm going to make it," he said.

Under the proposed legislation, drivers would be able to use a hand-held phone if they are not moving, such as sitting at a red light, and to report an emergency. The penalty for violators would be a $100 fine, but it wouldn't result in points on a driver's license that would affect insurance rates.

Legislation requiring hands-free phones while driving gains steam Legislation requiring hands-free phones while driving gains steam

"I would support it because it's safer to drive with both hands – both hands are available and accessible," driver Denzal Poole said.

Options for hands-free devices vary in price. At a Verizon store, for example, special earphones cost $20 to $30, a Bluetooth ranges from $40 to $100 and a portable speakerphone runs about $60.

"Having it to your ear isn't really causing the problem. It's dialing it. That's the problem," driver Aaron Hubbard said of using a cell phone while driving.

Poole acknowledged that cell phones can be distracting while behind the wheel.

"I've almost gotten hit a few times. I've seen it," he said.


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  • bear2010 Mar 23, 2011

    Hey...I want to be able to talk on the phone, text message on the device. play a game of tictactoe while I'm driving and watch a movie or two on my IPAD2 while driving...with no hands!!!!!LISTEN UP AMERICA!!!HOW ABOUT NOOOO CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING, THATS WHAT THEY HAVE VOICEMAIL FOR....

  • carrboroyouth Mar 23, 2011

    If you're gonna ban cell phones in cars then ban it altogether. The conversation is the biggest distraction, NOT holding the device. Hands-free phones are just as bad.

  • ohmygosh Mar 23, 2011

    Addicts are the last to recognize their addiction.

  • Tom Servo Mar 22, 2011

    "I've got to believe those who think this is bad legislation can't kick the addiction they have to cell phones."

    Your argument is anecdotal and your assumption patently false. I don't use the phone when I drive and I wish others would stop but I don't think we should be using legislation to strong arm people into behaving a certain way.

    The bigger issue is whether or not it's appropriate for people to respond emotionally to fearmongering and cite anecdotal "evidence" as justification for legislation that effectually reduces the liberties that individuals are allowed to take with their own private property. If you're going to suggest such action, you'd better be able to offer empirical evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the legislation reduces a real and serious threat to the common good.

    It's ignorant to accuse people of being "in denial" when you haven't offered compelling proof. Skepticism is the intelligent response to an effort to curb individual liberty.

  • ohmygosh Mar 22, 2011

    I've got to believe those who think this is bad legislation can't kick the addiction they have to cell phones.

    It's simple. Start the car, turn off the cell phone.

    People you are in denial.

  • aspenstreet1717 Mar 22, 2011

    But road deaths continue to decline each year. where is this epidemic???

  • whinnfjord Mar 22, 2011

    Vietnam Vet, I'm right there with you. All these "hands free" devices give you is a placebo effect. Using a "hands free" device is JUST AS DANGEROUS as holding the phone to your face!

    I hate misguided legislation which is EXACTLY what this is. If you want to ban cell phone use while driving, then do it. But don't institute some ridiculous law mandating a "fix" that simply DOES NOT ADDRESS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM!

  • NCSU2311 Mar 22, 2011

    What are we going to do about sleepy drivers? They kill too!!! YAY more government. Im sure they'll find a "sleep test" before long. LOL i love to hate you gov lovers.

  • NCSU2311 Mar 22, 2011

    Citation needed.


    If all of you "think of the children" folks who support this law want to dictate how I interact with my property in my car, then you need to provide some hard data that shows a significant statistical threat that cell phone usage poses and hard evidence that shows how using a hands-free device as described in this legislation will solve that problem.

    If you can't provide that information, then you're probably fearmongering, acting out of emotion, and pushing a straw man argument.

    If you've already talked about how dangerous this is but you can't quickly point to a study that you've read that substantiates your fears, then shame on you. Sheep like you who believe the government needs to protect us from phantom fears are the biggest threat to our liberty.

    You're welcome to believe whatever you want, but you can't be supporting legislation to limit my rights based on your feelings and emotions.

    FACTS AND NUMBERS, not feelings and emotions!
    Tom Servo

  • redapace Mar 22, 2011

    Good. If they're not on the phone maybe they'll go when the light turns green.