“One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.” This mantra of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s official website for distracted driving is aptly put. More than 9 people die and more than 1,153 people are hurt each day in the United States in automobile crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. A few facts from http://www.distraction.gov/ worth your undivided attention:
- Five Seconds is the Average Time Your Eyes Leave the Road While Texting: How long is 5 seconds? When traveling at a speed of only 55 miles per hour, 5 seconds is enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.
- The Risk of Crash Increases Three Times When Drivers Multi-Task: Any visual-manual subtasks carried out while driving – dialing, texting, reaching for the phone – increase the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
- Texting is the Most Dangerous Distraction: Why? Texting involves 3 types of distractions – visual, manual and cognitive – at the same time.
Visual: Taking your eyes off of the road
Manual: Taking your hands off of the wheel
Cognitive: Taking your mind off of driving
North Carolina now joins those states that have taken aggressive measures to help put an end to distracted driving. In 2009, North Carolina banned texting and emailing behind the wheel. North Carolina’s Distracted Driving Laws include:
- No Texting and Driving: North Carolina is one of 44 states and the District of Columbia to ban texting while driving. It is against the law in North Carolina to manually create a text message or to read text messages while operating vehicle on a public street, highway or public vehicular area.
- No Emailing and Driving: It is against the law in North Carolina to manually create an email message or to read email messages while operating vehicle on a public street, highway or public vehicular area.
- $100 Fine: Texting and emailing while driving carries a $100 fine, but its human toll can be far greater.
- Drivers Under Age 18 May Not Use Mobile Phones and Hand-Held Devices While Driving: Drivers under 18 may not use a mobile telephone or any of its additional technology while operating a motor vehicle on a public street, highway or public vehicular area. Those under 18 are allowed to communicate with 911 operators, fireman, police officers, hospitals and ambulances in cases of emergency, and to communicate with a parent, legal guardian or spouse.
- School Bus Drivers May Not Use Mobile Phones and Hand-Held Devices While Driving: School bus, school activity bus and paid parochial school student drivers may not use a mobile telephone or any of its additional technology while the school bus is in motion on a public street, highway or public vehicular area. School bus drivers may use devices in emergency situations.
- “Pullable” Offenses: The above bans in North Carolina are primary laws, or “pullable” offenses. This means that a police officer may pull a driver over for violating these rules. This is stricter than a secondary law, which only allows officers to ticket a driver for the offense after having been stopped for a different reason, such as speeding or making illegal turn.
What is Allowed?
- Lawfully Park or Stop Your Vehicle: The operator of a vehicle that is lawfully parked or stopped may create and read electronic mail and text messages.
- Voice Operated Technology: North Carolina text and email bans apply to manual entry, not to voice operated technology.
- Factory Installed or Aftermarket GPS Systems: You may use your GPS while operating a motor vehicle.