The Hands Free NC bill would make it illegal to physically hold or support a phone (wireless communication device), watch a video, or text while driving. This could save hundreds of lives every year in North Carolina.
Distracted driving has killed over 915 North Carolinians over the past five years (Source: NCDOT Crash Facts). The current law for texting and driving is outdated, difficult to enforce, and disproportionately endangers people walking and rolling.
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The Current Texting & Driving Law
The current NC texting and driving law makes it illegal for drivers to enter or read text while operating a motor vehicle (Source: NC General Assembly). While texting and driving is a major safety issue, this law doesn’t cover the wide range of phone use behind the wheel. These days, people use their phones for everything – including watching movies, streaming live videos, shopping, and more. The current law technically allows drivers to watch videos while driving. Or record a TikTok or Snapchat behind the wheel. Our distracted driving law needs to address the underlying issue with all forms of phone use – taking your hands off of the wheel.
Is difficult to enforce
Since the current law allows handheld phone use (including streaming video, etc.), law enforcement has a difficult time enforcing it. If they see someone using a phone while driving, they can pull them over, but they can’t prove that they were doing something illegal (typing text or reading text while driving) unless the driver admits to it. By making handheld phone use illegal, law enforcement would be able to write tickets for anyone seen touching their phone while driving.
Disproportionately endangers people walking or rolling
In 2019, 231 pedestrians and 18 bicyclists were killed on NC roads (Source: NCDOT Crash Facts). When people share spaces with multi-ton machines, it’s extremely important for drivers to pay 100% of their attention to the road and the people around them. People walking and rolling are especially vulnerable to being hit by distracted drivers.