Feds Look to Reduce Distracted Driving Accidents in North Carolina, South Carolina

I think everyone would agree that reducing the number of distraction-related car accidents in Asheville, Winston-Salem and elsewhere in the state would be ideal. After all, the hassle of getting your car fixed after a fender bender, having to get medically treated following an accident and facing possible lost time from work can be quite costly, not to mention stressful.

Our Charlotte car accident attorneys are always here to help ease the pain and stress that follows a traffic accident, especially in a time when cell phones and other distractions are so prominent in causing them.
The federal government is continuing to be vigilant in its fight to control distracted driving accidents nationwide. To date, states have been taking an individual approach in implementing bans on texting and talking on cell phones while driving.

According to a recent article in Auto Trends Magazine, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy is taking a giant step forward with the proposal of the Safe Drivers Act of 2011.

Similar to the national drunk driving blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 being standard throughout the country, the new bill would ban cell phone use while motorists are behind the wheel no matter what state you are driving in, making it uniform across the board and not just in certain states.

The Governors Highway Safety Association certifies that only 30 states ban texting for all drivers as a primary offense. There is currently no state that bans cell phone (hand held or hands-free) use for all drivers but many states stipulate certain drivers are banned from using a cell phone.

Specifically, beginner drivers (30 states and D.C.) and school bus drivers (19 states and D.C.) are banned from all cell phone use. North Carolina does not prohibit handheld cell phone use for drivers but does ban school bus drivers and novice drivers from any type of cell phone use while driving.

North Carolina prohibits texting by any driver while behind the wheel, no matter what the age or circumstance. Violation of the law for beginner drivers, school bus drivers and texters are all considered a primary offense and can be stopped without further provocation.

South Carolina, on the other hand, does not ban cell phone use or texting by any driver and only addresses the issue under the distracted/inattention attribute of the state law as stipulated under contributing factors. The new bill would get states, such as South Carolina, that have not been proactive in curbing cell phone use to comply on a federal level, much like the old 55 mph speed limit that was standard at one time nationwide.

The only allowable exception to the new safe drivers bill would be for drivers who need to make an emergency call. Legislation has also been proposed allowing drivers to be permitted to use voice-operated vehicle-integrated devices such as phones or GPS devices that you can talk to and not have to push buttons to operate.

The next step under the new bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct an investigation on distracted driving with particular attention paid to cognitive distraction and the effect that distraction has on inexperienced drivers. At the end of two years, the DOT would need to report their findings back to Congress at which time recommendations would be made on distracted driving laws and penalties faced if states don’t comply.

Failure for states to comply would lead to 25 percent of federal funding being taken away.

“Driving while making a phone call, texting or using apps can be as dangerous as driving drunk, and much more common,” Rep. McCarthy said. “With some basic common sense rules that are already in place in some parts of the country, we can reduce injuries and save lives in America.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driving accident in North or South Carolina, contact the car accident attorneys at the Lee Law Offices, P.A. for a free consultation. Call 1-800-887-1965 to start reviewing your case today.

Additional Resources:

Safe Drivers Act of 2011 Introduced to Congress, by Matt Keegan, Auto Trends Magazine

Using Cell Phones While Driving Raises Risk of Statesville Car Accidents, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, June 21, 2011

Senior Drivers can Raise Risk of Car Accidents in Greensboro, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, June 15, 2011

Two-Thirds of Drivers Using Cell Phones; Preventing Distractions key to Preventing North Carolina Car Accidents, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, March 17, 2011

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