With the prevalence of cell phones and handheld devices, distracted driving remains a huge problem across the United States.
In 2017, 3,166 people died in car accidents related to distracted driving according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While many states have passed laws to ban or limit the use of cell phones and handheld devices while driving, North Carolina has not.
A bill that would ban use of handheld devices while driving has died in this year’s session. Lawmakers will have to wait until next year before reintroducing it.
Following the lead of nearby states
Georgia and Tennessee recently passed similar bills for handheld devices. These laws only allow hands-free options for cell phones to cut down on distracted driving. Any interaction where drivers look at their phones is illegal. This can include texting, dialing or browsing social media and the internet.
While North Carolina already bans texting and driving, the proposed bill would have further limited cell phone use while driving similar to nearby states.
Not the first time
North Carolina lawmakers have tried since 2011 to ban the use of handheld devices while driving. They have introduced hands-free bills several times since then. A law to prohibit drivers under 18 from using a cell phone did pass, along with the ban on texting and driving. But many state senators and representatives feel a ban on all use of handheld devices limits personal freedom.
North Carolina voters may disagree
Meredith College polled 660 registered voters about a cellphone ban. Of those polled, 82% said they supported a hands-free bill.
Regardless of voter support, lawmakers will have to wait until 2020 to try again.