Next time your vehicle is at a standstill in rush hour traffic, take a look at what drivers around you are doing. Many, if not most, will be using their cell phones.
So common is cell phone use while driving that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) calls it an "epidemic" and has proposed a nationwide ban on all cell phone use while driving. North Carolina is among 35 states that already ban texting while driving. Six states and the District of Columbia ban the use of handheld cell phones. Hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth, are permissible in all states.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) recently conducted a study on cell phone use behind the wheel. They found that drivers who talk on cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. But the research also found that drivers using hands-free devices are just as dangerous.
"It's not holding a phone that makes it dangerous. It's that you're splitting your attention," said Arthur Goodwin, a senior research associate.
North Carolina's Prohibitions on Cell Phone Use While Driving
Under current state law, texting and driving in North Carolina is prohibited. Drivers must pull over or wait until they have stopped their vehicles before text messaging or sending an email. It's uncertain if state legislators will pursue more stringent rules for cell phone use while driving. Rep. John Faircloth of Guilford has said that new laws might be discussed when the legislature convenes in 2012, but that he's uncertain whether or not the state will take "a giant leap" and ban all use of cell phones while driving. Bill McGee, State Transportation Committee Vice Chair, said he would support a ban on hand-held cell phone use.
We at Nagle & Associates support a more extensive cell phone ban for North Carolina drivers because we have seen the injuries that result from distracted driving accidents.