Proposed bill would force NC drivers to put down their cellphones

Posted February 21, 2019 9:25 p.m. EST
Updated February 21, 2019 10:32 p.m. EST

— Texting while driving is already against the law in North Carolina, but state lawmakers are looking to add more regulations to the way devices are used while driving.

Most people will admit that old habits die hard and a bill that essentially says “hands off your devices” would be a test of willpower for many.

“I mean I don’t pull out my Kindle or anything like that, but for sure I’ll text a word or two here or there,” Raleigh resident Omar Budwan said.

House Bill 144, filed Thursday, would be known as the Hands Free NC Act. It outlines unlawful use of a wireless communication device and, under the proposed law, operating a motor vehicle with a cellphone in your hand would be prohibited.

“The clarity in it is tough for people to hear sometimes, but I like to have my hands free and I feel like I’m a little more attentive when I’m driving,” Raleigh resident Darryl Lester said.

The proposed bill also outlines the penalties for violations; including a $100 fine for the first offense, a $150 fine for a second offense, and a $200 fine for a third offense.

Some wonder, though, if the measure will be enough to change deeply engrained habits.

“I don’t know. Maybe if I get slapped with a $100 ticket, that might change things, but for now it is what it is,” Budwan said.

“It actually depends on how they enforce it,” Cary resident Jay Howell said. “Are you going to have unmarked cars driving around looking for enforcement?”

The exceptions portion of the bill includes the ability to use an affixed or mounted device to initiate or end a phone call, or follow a GPS route.