Wilmington weighs in on distracted driving bill as it moves to state Senate

Distracted drivers could face citations
Distracted drivers could face citations(WECT)
Updated: May. 7, 2019 at 8:42 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Crashes caused by distracted drivers have become such a problem that the state wants to pass the Hands Free NC bill, making it illegal to drive in a distracted manner.

While it is illegal to text and drive, the state legislature aims to crack down on anyone who uses a cell phone, eats, drinks, or puts on makeup while driving. If it causes them to drive in a careless and reckless matter, it is illegal. The bill passed in the state House Tuesday, but must clear the NC Senate before it becomes law.

Earlier this year, Wilmington police responded to more than 50 wrecks in 60 days in a five block radius all due to distracted driving.

“It’s obviously a big problem in our city and this newly passed legislation targets that. As we continue to address traffic issues in our community, we will be enforcing this new law to help keep motorists and pedestrians safe," said Wilmington PD spokesperson, Jennifer Dandron.

City residents weren’t all thrilled to hear of the proposed changes to the law.

“I’m not going to lie, I think that is the biggest waste of their time. You can’t monitor hundreds of thousands of people every single day and if we did, that would be a waste of the police force,” said Wilmington resident Paul Heath.

Chris Marra also lives in Wilmington and believes this is going to be another way for police to bring in more money.

“You need to eat and you need to drink, a lot of are on the go all the time so that’s another way for the cops to make some money and drive in money," said Marra.

Wilmington resident Gwen Miller drives a motorcycle and said she sees drivers holding their phones in their cars all the time.

“The other day I got cut off twice by somebody texting on their phone and had their phone up to their ear, I don’t know if they really saw me or not,” said Miller.

Though she sees how it can help, she says she’s also guilt of driving distracted. Miller likes to drive with her dog on her lap, but now that this bill has moved forward, she says she won’t be doing that anymore.

Lawmakers hope the new rules would begin in December. Law enforcement would only issue warnings in the first six months after the bill is passed. After that initial period, violators could be fined $100.

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