Thursday, December 5, 2013

How 'bout a hotline to report distracted drivers?

Texting while driving is illegal in North Carolina. But that law is hard to enforce, and our neighbors in South Carolina are considering taking things much further. Greenville might become the first city in South Carolina to ban all use of cell phones while driving.

The city had considered banning only texting, but the police chief says that would be hard to enforce because drivers could say they were doing something else on their phones and proving otherwise would get expensive. Banning all hand-held devices would make enforcement much easier.

"If it's in their hand and we can see them doing something, it's easy for us to enforce," Police Chief Terri Wilfong said, according to the Greenville News.

There's a law on the books in North Carolina (as there are in 40 other states), but it means little. Charlotte-area drivers see it everyday: Drivers drifting out of their lane while staring at their phone.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says South Carolina is one of only two states (Montana is the other) with no distracted-driving law. A dozen states outlaw all use of phones while driving, as Greenville is considering.

The NHTSA says 3,318 people were killed in crashes caused by distracted driving last year. The group says "at any given moment during daylight hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone."

North Carolina bans any cell phone use while driving only for school bus drivers and drivers under age 18. The rest of us are free to stare at our maps and call our friends.

Some day, legislators will treat distracted drivers more like drunk drivers. Until then, we should all resist the urge, and put the phone down. And would it be too much to ask for a hotline we could call to report other distracted drivers? We'd pull over before calling it, we swear.

-- Taylor Batten



Wiley Coyote said...

I agree with the intent, but the road to hell is also paved with good intentions.

California has a hands-free law, yet countless people still use their phones while driving. I go there every four weeks and invariably, I'll have to dodge a car that isn't paying attention coming into my lane because they are on the phone.

The law only works if a cop actually sees the offense or after the fact when cellphone records are subpoenaed due to an accident.

Gilberto Borrero said...

Institute a hands-free law here in NC. Also, increase the fine to $1,000 for a 1st offense and then increase by $1,000 each occurring offense. Increase the points for the offender to 4pts for 1st offense, then suspend the license for 3 months.

Sunshine123 said...

This is all well and good, but cell phones aren't the only distractions. What about the Big Mac, the ice cream cone, the dog, mascara, lipstick, paperback,'s not just phones. Unfortunately, people are just stupid. A ban on the phone will not stop driver distractions.

Tricianna MackDee said...

It's a good start though Sunshine123. I dare anyone to argue that when people are texting and driving they aren't spending more time staring at that stupid phone as opposed to having that cumbersome Big Mac in their hand. Banning phones won't stop ALL driver distractions, but it will hopefully stop the largest percentage that causes accidents, the phone.