Texting While Driving
In North Carolina, drivers below the age of 18 are expressly prohibited from using any mobile phone or other type of electronic device associated with a mobile phone while their vehicle is in motion. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-137.3). School bus drivers are bound by a similar provision under NC law. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-137.4). The punishment for teenagers in violation of § 20-137.3 is a fine of $25, while the penalty for bus drivers is a minimum fine of $100 (§§ 20-137.3 & 20-137.4). However, these particular categories of drivers are no longer the only North Carolinians to be restricted by the developing area of “cell-phone” legislation.
Since December 1, 2009, all drivers in North Carolina have been banned from text messaging and/or sending and receiving emails via the use of their mobile phones. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-137.4A). Currently, 13 other states, along with the District of Columbia, have similar provisions in place limiting the use of mobile phones in automobiles.
Under the new NC law, drivers must pull over or wait until their vehicle is no longer in motion before attempting to text or e-mail. (§ 20-137.4A). However, the law provides for a few exceptions in operators of vehicles that are lawfully parked or stopped, various categories of emergency responders, and drivers utilizing forms of GPS navigational systems or voice-activated technology. (§ 20-137.4A). It is still legal for people to use their phones to make and accept phone calls while driving.
Some supporters of this new legislation have argued that drivers will often look down to text or even take both hands off of the wheel in order to utilize the features of their phone. (http://www.wral.com/news/state/story/5394218/). In either situation, drivers are taking their eyes off of the road, creating a substantial threat to other drivers as well as greatly increasing their own chances for an accident. Although this new law may be difficult for police to actually enforce, officials believe that it will at least send a strong message to NC drivers that “texting while driving” is dangerous, and now, illegal. (http://www.wral.com/news/state/story/5394218/).
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