Texting while driving ban close to passing

Reported by Lynda Figueredo - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The North Carolina House wants drivers to keep their hands and fingers on the wheel instead of on cell phone keys.

"I don't feel that safe because they're [drivers] are constantly looking down, and they're not paying attention to the road," said resident Lawanda Green.

North Carolina has already banned cell phone use and texting for bus drivers and for those under 18, but a new bill would ban all drivers from text messaging or sending e-mails with their cell phones.

"I absolutely don't' think people should text and drive," said resident Elaine Henson.  "There was an accident not long ago, right here in Wilmington, where a girl was texting on Castle Street and she ended up running into a building."

Just a few weeks ago, a 34-year-old woman hit a parked truck and then swerved into the Community Action Building because she was distracted by her cell phone.

Doug Darrell started the "Street Safe" program in efforts to educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving.

Through an obstacle course he teaches drivers how easy it can be to lose control of a vehicle while texting.

"The National Highway says texting is as dangerous as drinking," said Darrell.  "We go to stop kids and stop everyone texting while driving."

Some drivers say texting while driving poses as a major distraction, but enforcing the law may be a tough call.

"It [the ban] will be hard to enforce," said resident Ally Cook.  "There is a lot of speeding and a lot of people not wearing seat belts as it is.  I mean, people should do it for their own safety already."

If the bill becomes a law, drivers would have to either pull over or wait until they have stopped their vehicle before they could text or email.

Scotland County Rep. Garland Pierce said the ban is about keeping the road safe by discouraging distractions. Violators could face a $100 fine plus court costs.

The bill builds on a 2006 law making it illegal for young drivers to talk on a cell phone. The measure was approved by a vote of 108-9.

According to the insurance institute for Highway Safety, text messaging is banned for all drivers in ten states and the District of Columbia.

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