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Bill On Table To Make Texting Illegal For NC Drivers


Posted on Feb 27, 2009

Three years ago, North Carolina made it illegal for teenaged drivers to text on their cell phone while driving - citing the activity as a dangerous driver distraction that caused accidents and cost lives. WRAL.com and the Associated Press report.

Now, lawmakers are asking the NC General Assembly to outlaw the popular and new practice of texting for everyone driving a vehicle. There are three different bills in the works, all of which build off the original law that bans young people from texting while driving. Young people are also not allowed to talk on their cell phone or talk on a hands-free device while driving, according to the 2006 law.

The law would fine those driving while texting $100 plus court fees, though no driver's license points would be subtracted and though car insurance prices would not increase with a texting infraction.

"This is about safety, protecting the public - not just about children, but protecting all of us," NC State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday about the bills. "As technology advances, we must ensure that public safety is not diminished."

While texting was popular with teens beginning in 2005, now adults are picking up on the recent craze. Although the new communication technology might make other aspects of life easier, it is making driving more dangerous.

Although it agrees that texting while driving is dangerous, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is not convinced that instating a law will have much effect and wonder if and how it will be enforced. Their doubt is based on a study last year that found North Carolina teens stilled talked on the phone the same amount while driving as before the original law.

Others just think awareness might be the answer - making drivers across the state aware of the dangers of talking on the cell phone and texting may be more effective than instituting a law that may be difficult to enforce. Others, like the AAA motor club, which supports the new texting ban, think the law will raise awareness.

"We know that motorists recognize that cell phone usage in cars for both hand-held and handsfree and texting are major distractions - if they're honest," said Stephen Phillips, traffic safety manager for AAA Carolinas motor club.

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