Local News

Lawmakers could consider ban on texting while driving

Posted January 29, 2009 9:55 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Legislation to make texting while driving illegal is expected to be introduced by North Carolina lawmakers next week.

“When I am trying to dial that number, I quickly end up in another lane. Most people will be honest and tell you (that) when you take your eyes off that road, you are asking for trouble,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland.

Nationally in the last month, 53 percent of drivers admitted talking on cell-phones while driving and 14 percent admitted to texting, according to AAA.

Pierce admits that if the bill becomes law, it may be difficult to catch people breaking it.

North Carolina has already banned cell phone use and texting for bus drivers and for teens under 18. But since that law took effect in 2006, the number of teens who say they do it has actually increased slightly from 11 percent to 11.8 percent, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In 2007, police across the state issued 50 tickets to teens.

“I don’t see them enforcing it that well,” motorist Adam Mason said.

Will Stephens, 22, is in favor of the bill, even though he frequently texts while driving.

“I do it all the time and it is distracting,” Stephens said.

If the bill becomes law, the penalty for breaking it would be $100. There would be no points on the driver’s license. The bill makes an exception allowing emergency workers to text.

In the cell phone talking ban bill being proposed, a hands-free device is allowed.

Text-messaging is banned for all drivers in seven states (Alaska, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington) and the District of Columbia, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.