Every year for the last decade, various North Carolina legislators have introduced bills intended to restrict driver use of mobile devices such as cell phones. In 2009, one such bill finally passed – a ban on texting while driving. Additionally, no cell phone use is permitted for drivers under age 18, with a few exceptions such as calls to parents and emergency services.

For some legislators, however, these restrictions do not do enough to help combat the estimated 448,000 injuries that occurred nationally in 2009 from distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). So in keeping with tradition, the 2011 North Carolina Legislative session includes three different bills involving some kind of ban on cell phone use while driving.

The current three bills contemplated are:

  • A state House Bill (HB31) banning all cell phone use by all drivers, whether it is hands-free or not
  • A House Bill (HB 44) banning handheld cell phone use by all drivers, but allowing hands-free mobile use while driving
  • A Senate Bill (SB36) banning all cell phone use, including hands-free headsets, similar to HB31

It is unclear whether any of these bills will move forward and become law.

A Growing National Awareness of Distracted Driving

North Carolina is one of 30 states that ban texting while driving. If North Carolina prohibits all handheld cell phone use, it would join only 8 other states to do so. Currently, no state bans hands-free cell phones. However, a survey of over 120 studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that both hands-free and handheld cell phones increase the likelihood of an accident.

In fact, a study by the University of Utah indicated that talking on a cell phone increases the chances of an accident just as much as a .08 blood alcohol level, the level a driver is considered legally intoxicated.

According to the NHSTA, distracted driving caused 5,474 deaths in 2009. While there are various kinds of distracted driving, such as eating or grooming, 18 percent of driving fatalities included cell phone use. If a negligent driver has injured you in a car accident, you may be able to recover compensation for injuries. Speak with a local personal injury attorney to further understand your rights.