My turn: Put down the phone while you're driving - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

My turn: Put down the phone while you're driving

You are not allowed to text and drive in North Carolina, but it doesn’t appear to have stopped many people. And as the driver in the other car, it makes me uneasy. (Source: Associated Press) You are not allowed to text and drive in North Carolina, but it doesn’t appear to have stopped many people. And as the driver in the other car, it makes me uneasy. (Source: Associated Press)

It’s against the law, but not a day goes by that I don’t see someone looking at their smart phone while driving. 

You are not allowed to text and drive in North Carolina, but it doesn’t appear to have stopped many people. And as the driver in the other car, it makes me uneasy.

There have been numerous ad campaigns and public safety awareness efforts aimed at getting into people’s heads that creating another distraction while operating a motor vehicle is dangerous. 

But obviously it’s not resonating with many people.  The way I see it, there are two potential things that could break this bad habit for drivers. 

There could be a massive increase in law enforcement action to crack down on this.  OR, sadly, there will be a major accident where someone loses their life while involved in this type of activity. 

But even then the impact of that fades for most everyone except the people experiencing the loss of a loved one or the painful guilt of being foolishly responsible for another person’s injury or death.

Ask yourself if you are prepared to do that when you are tempted to reach for your smart phone when you are behind the wheel.   

That’s my turn. Now it’s your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at yourturn@wect.com.

Copyright 2016 WECT. All rights reserved.


Emailed comments from viewers:

I agree with everything you mentioned about the use of phones in cars.  I have actually seen people drive off the road using them.  The amount of people using them at stoplights is increasing as well.   

But WECT continues to encourage this use and I think that you need to either stop this encouragement or do a much better job discouraging.  Every morning you have the traffic segment on your broadcast and ask people to tweet, facebook or text it to your station.  While there is a simple note at the end "don't do this while driving or in a safe location" just does not send this message home that ITS BAD TO DO.  What are the odds that those who send you these notices are not sending them to you while driving (or sitting at a light) or in a safe location??  I am sure that they are committing the very act you are lightly discouraging.  I wish that WECT would do a better job in discouraging this behavior and not ask viewers to send in tweets, facebook or texts, the way technology is today WECT can relay this information without viewers help using various DOT and other traffic sites that are pretty much in real time and you monitoring scanners etc. 

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What an important topic, that most people don't want to discuss. 

For many years I have lived with my dad telling me and my sisters to stay off the phone when we are behind the wheel. He will some times call me and ask if I am in the car. If I tell him yes, his next response is, "call me when you get home, I love you" and then he hangs up. Sure you see people do it all the time. But I never fully understood the effects until....

On the evening of Thursday, May 5, 2016 I received a call from my mother. She wanted to know if I was at home and I told her "yes". She paused, and then she went on to say, "Codel was killed". LaColtus AnT'wan Grady, known to me and many as Codel or Twan. He is my younger cousin. He was attempting to leave his mother's house (on Morningside Dr in Wilmington, N.C.), getting into his car to head to his girlfriend's house when out of nowhere, he was hit by a car and died. 

The driver, a 21 year old who claimed to be reaching for her cellphone had claimed his innocent life. We will never know if she was truly reaching for her phone, talking on her phone, listening to a voicemail message, texting someone, reading a text message, on social media, or googling on a website, etc. I think you get my point here. Regardless, because of her own admission, we know her cellphone was involved.

This is a NC licensed driver who may not face very much time in jail because the NC law states unless you have prior criminal offenses or DUI/DWI then you basically get a slap on the wrist and sent home.These occurrences that have taken so many lives are not accidents, they are crashes that result in fatalities. They are crashes that could have been prevented had the driver been paying attention. 

If you are driving impaired and take a life you get a lengthy jail sentence because it's against the law to drive while impaired. But if you are in some way distracted by a cellphone and cause a fatality you face a short term jail sentence or probation. Why? Because that's the NC law. What about the human being who lost their life? They only get justice if the person who took their life was impaired or had a prior criminal record? Where's the justice in the law? 
It's time for the laws to catch up with the crimes. Cellphone distractions have become the new DUI/DWI in America. People are losing and taking their lives because of a cellphone.  

If you have a driver's license, you have an obligation every time you get behind the wheel to reduce any unnecessary distractions, and to focus on the task at hand...driving. Nothing is more important than saving your life as well as someone else's. When we get behind the wheel and we partake in these unnecessary activities, we have to be responsible and held accountable for our actions. 

I have contacted Senator Jeff Tarte who has sponsored Senate Bill 393, the Brian Garlock Act which will make it illegal in North Carolina to hold a cellphone while driving. In my opinion, this is a start, but there's still a long way to go. NC has recently increased the punishment for DUI/DWI offenders who cause fatalities, the state needs to also address and increase the punishment for distracted drivers who cause serious injuries/fatalities. You cannot bring a life that has been taken back, but justice can be granted with respect to their life. 

Please don't wait for this to happen to someone you love. Be proactive. Put your phone down and tell others to put theirs down as well when driving. Safety first and foremost! Nothing breaks my heart more than seeing my aunt and uncle go through the pain they have endured since the evening of May 5, 2016. They will never be the same people they were before the life of their one and only son was taken for them. A life that could have and should have been saved. 

We can and we will survive if we do not use our cellphones while driving. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did prior to 1983, so can we! 

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I.. Like you am tired of getting behind people obviously texting on their phone!! Which I can't figure out how they do it on college,market.. Or any other busy street in Wilmington , it's hard enough to pay attention to all the other idiots out there without the distraction of a phone.. Maybe they can or already do , allow citizens stopping them ,, because like you ..I see it all day everyday.. And there's as they say"never a cop around when you need them "

Or maybe write down a tag number and send it in to the police and send them a warning by mail and after 2-5 complaints issue a ticket... Just thinking out loud!!

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I absolutely agree with your comments and get so frustrated when I see vehicles making dangerous manoeuvre's by distracted drivers....especially when your own safety is put at great risk.

As you intimated the solution is not an easy fix and short of more severe penalties then a fool proof answer is beyond me.

I like this segment and rarely differ from your opinion

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I travel a lot and I see people texting and driving time and time again. And not just young people! I see older people texting and driving. What I want to know is, What can I do to report them. I want them off the road! I hate it when stupid people put my life in danger! Maybe they should put a $5,000.00 fine for texting and driving.

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Operating an electronic device while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle should be punishable by loss of driving for a period of one year. It should be treated along the same lines as driving while impaired (DWI). 

It takes three things to operate a vehicle. 1. Visual 2. Physical and 3. Cognitive skills. Additionally all three are required to operate a electronic device. So basically no one is driving the vehicle. It's the most dangerous thing we do on a daily basis. Every time you pass another vehicle you come within two feet of death. Not to mention bikers and pedestrians.   There should be some serious enforcement of the laws. Just my thoughts. 

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Great write up. This issue is one that MUST be addressed now. With the influx people on e again moving to this already overcrowded area, this issue only adds to the dangerous driving we all face everyday. 

If it is not already protocol, I think if you are in an accident, your phone records should be released and if you are found guilty of using your phone within that time frame, serious punishment should come from it. Loss of driving privileges?

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