Distracted driving can be dangerous for all North Carolina drivers on the road. Nationwide, it caused more than 3,000 fatalities and 416,000 injuries in 2010 motor vehicle accidents. There are so many distractions within the car, including the radio, GPS and cellphones, that it is easy for someone to lose track of the road. It only takes a few seconds of distraction--the amount of time to dial the phone--to cause an accident.
For instance, a few years ago, a young woman was walking to a bus stop when she was hit by a car. The driver of the car was talking on a cellphone. The victim ended up with a brain hemorrhage and had to miss a year of college. She continues to have headaches and memory lapses.
Distracted driving accidents are preventable, and many states and local governments understand this. Chapel Hill recently passed a new law preventing the use of all cellphones, even hands-free devices, while driving. This is the first ban in the country that also includes hands-free devices.
The new law imposes a $25 penalty, but this penalty can be applied only if a motorist is stopped for another traffic violation. The law also has exceptions that include phone calls from spouses or for emergencies.
Many business owners are opposed to the ban because they take calls constantly throughout the day to get their work done. In addition, they do not feel that the penalty is enough of a deterrent.
The National Transportation Safety Board wants to enact similar policies nationwide, with an exception for cars with built-in phones.
Source: CBS Evening News, "Crackdown on Distracted Driving Expands to Include Hands-Free Phones," Anna Werner, June 7, 2012