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Distracted Drivers Create Danger on the Roads

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RALEIGH — Drivers face a lot of challenges: speeders, too much traffic, not enough courtesy. Now according to one study, the fastest growing road hazard is drivers themselves, distracted ones.

"It's hard to drive when you're talking on the telephone, trying to drink hot coffee, eating a donut, and you're reading a book on your steering wheel, and you got the paper open across your windshield, I mean how can you pay attention to what you're doing?" wonders one motorist.

A nationwide study by The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety estimates that up to half of all accidents are caused by distracted drivers.

"I had a tractor-trailer where the driver was messing with his radio and veered off to the right onto the emergency strip and struck another tractor-trailer," says trooper Ray Snead.

But police officers say they cannot write a ticket for someone who is simply displaying the behavior of a distracted driver.

Tow truck driver Tracey Creech sees drivers eating and putting makeup on, but what really bothers him is cell phones.

"I think personally, if you don't have a business and you don't have a business license, you don't need to be driving with a cell phone, unless you have a headset," Creech says.

One simple and inexpensive solution is the hands-free headset. For about $14, the headset clips on with an earpiece to insert and leaves both hands free for driving.

North Carolina lawmakers say there is no legislation planned to regulate drivers using cell phones. The Raleigh City Attorney has studied the issue. Mayor Paul Coble says urging responsible use of cell phones is better than a ban.