State News

Texting ban for drivers passes Senate committee

Posted May 19, 2009 12:12 p.m. EDT
Updated May 19, 2009 7:00 p.m. EDT

— A House bill to ban North Carolina motorists from writing text messages and e-mails while driving has had smooth sailing so far in the Senate.

A Senate judiciary committee agreed Tuesday to the legislation with little debate and sent it on to the appropriations committee. The same committee passed a similar bill weeks ago, but passing the House version gives the ban a better chance of getting to Gov. Beverly Perdue's desk more quickly.

"I think it'll be rather quick. It's not a complicated bill. It's rather simple to understand," said Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson.

The House approved the texting ban by a near-unanimous vote last month.

Supporters say the ban would reduce driver distractions that can lead to highway accidents.

"How can you drive (while texting), I mean, God knows," Bingham said. "You might as well meet a drunk driver if you meet someone texting, looking at the floorboard or looking at their cell phone."

Violators could face a $100 fine plus court costs. There are exceptions for police and rescue workers and in some other cases.

Even some drivers who admitted to sending and receiving text messages while behind the wheel called a texting ban a good idea.

"From personal experience, I know it's not a good idea," driver Candy Pambu said. "I'm a teenager and I text a lot, but you know, when you're driving, you're not only responsible for yourself but other drivers on the road."

Alaska, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington already have texting-while-driving bans.