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North Carolina Assembly’s Effort To Ban Hand-Held Devices While Driving


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2016 over 34,400 fatal crashes in the United States and 3,157 were distraction related – that is 9% of total crashes. While the phenomenon of vehicle crashes has many causes, one seems to be pretty prevalent: the use of hand-held devices while driving, specifically mobile phones.

Six percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. It’s clear some measures need to be taken to lower these numbers and prevent people from using these devices while behind the wheel. In North Carolina, one bill aims to do exactly that.

What the Bill Says

The Hands-Free North Carolina Act addresses this issue and aims to tighten rules regarding hands-free device usage while driving. However, the initial version was very different from the one the Senate ultimately approved; it only bans using these devices if it impairs or restricts the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle.

But this version is not enough for three state senators, who want to see cell phones and other hand-held device usage while behind the wheel completely banned, not just in certain circumstances.

Currently, the new bill bans driving a vehicle while: 

    • Having a wireless communications device in your hand
    • Physically holding or supporting the device
    • Watching a video or having video calls
    • Texting

The bill also mentions certain exceptions to this rule, mostly allowing people to use these devices to contact emergency response units or while performing official duties, such as policemen making a call to their precinct.

But there are 3 Republican Senators that do not agree with the language of the bill, which does not completely prohibit the use of hand-held devices while behind the wheel. Instead, they plan on adding an amendment in the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee clarifying the language showing North Carolina drivers that using these devices is strictly banned, apart from emergency situations.

How the Bill Could Affect Road Safety

It is currently illegal to operate a vehicle while distracted in North Carolina, but unfortunately it is difficult for law officials to enforce the laws. Currently, if a police officer sees a driver with a cellphone in their hand, there is not much they can do, as the current legislation does not prohibit holding the device while behind the wheel.

As a result, most interventions the police make are only after an accident took place. A general ban of handheld devices could potentially lower the number of distracted driving accidents, as law enforcement could have ground to intervene long before there is any danger.

We Can Help with Distracted Driver Related Accidents

If you require assistance with a distracted driving related car accident case, contact the attorneys at Glenn, Mills, Fisher and Mahoney by calling (919) 683-2135 today or visit our Case Evaluation page and complete the contact form for a no obligation review of your case.