Driving is second nature to many of us, but dangers still exist on the roadways and inside the car. That is why a bill was recently proposed in the House that would make it illegal in North Carolina to use hand-held communication devices, such as cell phones while driving.

North Carolina is one of 47 states that has already banned texting while driving. North Carolina has had the prohibition on texting or emailing while driving since 2009, and drivers under 18 can’t use mobile phones at all.

Numbers tell the story

In North Carolina, distracted driving contributed to 49,643 crashes in 2012, growing to 54,302 in 2016, while related fatalities increased from 140 to 177 during the same period, according to the state Department of Transportation. While fatalities declined in 2018 to 123, crashes mostly stayed flat. DOT said the extent of distracted driving may be more significant since the factor is self-reported.

Information on the new distracted driving bill proposed from the Law Firm of Thomas Bumgardner in Charlotte, NC.

The Hands-Free NC bill will give law enforcement the ability to stop drivers for merely holding their phone, whereas in the past they would have to have a secondary reason like speeding or not wearing a seat belt.

Fines increase

The bill carries a $100 fine for the first offense, $150 fine and insurance points for the second and $200 and insurance points for the third.

The bill would allow drivers to talk while parked. It also would allow for drivers over age 18 to use a cell phone if it’s “affixed, mounted, or installed” in a way that allows the driver to “initiate, answer, or terminate a call by touching a single button.”

January 2020

Similar bills have failed before, but lawmakers are hoping this one can pass. Officials say it’s tough to enforce the already in place banned texting law since drivers can say they are using their GPS. If passed, the bill won’t go into effect till January 2020 and tickets will not be written till 6 months after. Also, if the number of crashes falls, insurance rates are likely to decline as well.

Information on the new distracted driving bill proposed from the Law Firm of Thomas Bumgardner in Charlotte, NC.

Be aware of your surroundings and drive to the conditions at the time. Slow down if bad weather or traffic. Be mindful of distractions- radio, phones, texting, eating food. If you are involved in an accident, we can help. Book an appointment with us, and we will figure out the best course of legal action. Email info@ballantynelegal.com or call us at 704-887-4981.