To kick off Distracted Driving Awareness month AAA Carolinas joined law enforcement and supporters at a press conference at the NC Department of Insurance in Raleigh to urge lawmakers to pass the Hands Free NC bill.
DOI Commissioner Mike Causey announced his support of HB 144, the proposed legislation that would make it illegal to use a hand held communications device, including a cell phone, while driving.
Families who lost loved ones from a distracted driving crash spoke on behalf of the bill. Rep. Kevin Corbin of Macon, who filed HB 144, was in attendance along with bill co-sponsor Rep. Garland Pierce of Scotland.
“We applaud Rep. Corbin’s efforts to make our roads safer and commend DOI Commissioner Causey for publicly supporting the Hands Free NC bill ,” said Tiffany Wright, President of AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety. “April is dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and this is the perfect time for lawmakers to act and move this bill forward.This is a non-partisan issue and is ultimately about saving lives.”
The current texting while driving law is very difficult to enforce. The Hands Free NC bill gives law enforcement the ability to stop drivers for holding their phone, whereas in the past they would have to have a secondary reason like speeding or not wearing a seat belt. The bill carries a $100 fine for the first offense and a larger fine and insurance points for the second and third offense.
According to NCDOT, in 2018 there were 123 fatalities coded as a result of distracted driving. However, AAA Carolinas believes the numbers are higher because the behavior is difficult to prove and motorists won’t readily admit to doing it. Last year, there were also 102 rear end fatal crashes and 733 lane departure fatalities. Rear end and lane departure collisions are a common result from distracted driving.
AAA is committed to helping drivers curb the urge to engage in distracting behaviors behind the wheel. Any task that requires taking your eyes or attention off-the-road and hands off-the-wheel can present a dangerous risk on the roadway. In order to avoid distraction, AAA recommends:
- Disconnect and Drive Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving.
- Know where you’re going: Pre-program your GPS and adjust seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before putting the car in motion.
- Secure Items: Properly secure children and pets and store loose possessions and other items that could roll around in the car.
- Snack Smart: Avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.