In spite of new laws, distracted driving still deadly on North Carolina roads
On paper, North Carolina’s roads should be safe from distracted driving. There are laws on the books that ban both hand-held cell phone use and texting behind the wheel. Unfortunately, state troopers report that both of those laws are nearly impossible to enforce given limited resources and a difficulty “catching” drivers breaking the law given how easy it is to just toss a cell phone aside once a police officer hits the lights and sirens. Drivers are also using a loophole in the way to avoid punishment for texting, claiming that they are simply dialing a number on their cellphone, an action that is technically legal. A recent investigation by Charlotte’s own WSOC news team brought the issue of distracted driving back into the spotlight by showing lawmakers and the public firsthand what police go through as they try to keep the streets safe from distracted drivers. It has prompted some state legislators to take a second look at the laws.
The stakes are high for lawmakers seeking solutions to the distracted driving epidemic: according to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving kills more than 3,000 people a year, and a person using a cell phone behind the wheel is upwards of four times more likely to be involved in an accident. The National Safety Council (NSC)’s data is even more shocking: cell phone use (either in the form of speaking on a hand-held phone or texting) behind the wheel causes one-fourth of the nation’s car accidents – more than 1.4 million crashes – annually. North Carolina’s current laws only specifically address hand-held cellphone use or sending/receiving text messages behind the wheel, not some other equally risky behaviors like:
- Surfing the web
- Reading a map or GPS navigation device
- Checking or sending email
- Changing music selections on the radio, a CD player, or an mp3 player
- Engaging in heated conversations with passengers, on a hands-free phone, or on a CB radio system
Regardless of whether a distraction is old-fashioned or new-fangled, the result is the same: distracted driving is deadly driving. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a distracted driver, you probably have many questions. You are likely worried about getting the medical care you need, paying for car repairs, and replacing the wages you are missing while you recover. To get the answers you seek, consult an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and the options you have to hold the responsible parties accountable.