Local News

Texting while driving ban results in few tickets

Posted May 11, 2010 9:28 p.m. EDT
Updated May 12, 2010 4:31 p.m. EDT

— The risks of texting while driving are obvious, but that doesn't stop some people from sending text messages while behind the wheel.

Texting while driving became against the law in North Carolina last December. But enforcing the texting-while-driving ban has become a law enforcement challenge.

Since the law took effect, the state Highway Patrol has issued two citations in Wake County, while troopers in Durham County have written one.

"It’s an excellent law; it's just that a trooper has to articulate that a person is in fact texting and not looking at their phone number or making a phone call," Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jeff Gordon said.

Under the law, drivers are supposed to either pull over or wait until they have stopped their vehicle before texting or sending an e-mail.

"It is bad. I know it's unsafe, but if you've got to text, you've got to text,” 21-year-old Nadia Hedgley said.

Hedgley and 21-year-old Alicia Tegen are among the people who are still flipping open cell phones and glancing down to type.

"There have been times when I’ve texted, and I’ve realized I’m getting up too close to a car,” Tegen said.

Troopers recommend that habitual text-messagers turn their cell phone off while driving to eliminate the temptation to respond to a text. But despite the dangers, some people have shown that they aren't willing to stop texting while driving

"I have seen people texting and driving at the same time, following too close, erratic driving. So it is a distraction. It is a problem," Gordon said.

Some drivers say they are more aware since the law went in to effect, but still aren't obeying it.

"I just don't want to get caught and I’m making sure that someone's not running into me,” Tegen said.

"If I’m on a straight road and I don't need to turn anytime soon, I’ll just like put it (phone) in front of me and type,” Hedgley said.

Troopers say the law is making a difference, however.

"A lot of it has to do with awareness. It could be us getting the word out there to people," Gordon said.

Since last December, troopers have issued 71 texting-while-driving tickets statewide. Among all law enforcement agencies, including police officers, sheriff's deputies and troopers, more than 220 citations have been issued since the law went into effect.

Violators face a $100 fine, plus court costs.