Texting and Driving: An Ongoing Scourge on Carolina Roads

Authorities in Garner, North Carolina say a young woman caused a four-vehicle wreck on a recent afternoon because she was texting and driving.iphone

Reports are it was about 2:45 p.m. and the woman was swerving about the road, according to witnesses. This set off a four-vehicle collision that resulted in multiple injuries to the alleged at-fault driver, including a broken leg. No other injuries were reported, but her car was totaled. Officers say she will likely be charged with reckless driving and texting while driving, a violation of N.C.G.S. 20-137.4A.

The Wake County incident occurred not far from where another texting-and-driving crash happened earlier this year. That case proved fatal for a 53-year-old mother, whose husband and 16-year-old daughter were critically injured. In that case, a 42-year-old man who was allegedly texting and driving when he struck the victims’ vehicle as it was stopped on the shoulder, where husband and wife were trading off driving duties in the middle of a long road trip. ABC-11 reports the texting driver failed to reduce his speed and struck the van from behind.¬†

Even though texting while driving is illegal in both North Carolina and South Carolina, it continues to be a major problem.The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimated some 3,000 people are killed every year and another 250,000 injured in crashes wherein at least one driver was texting.

In a recent survey conducted by Forbes Business, almost half of all adult respondents admitted to texting while driving. For teens, it’s even worse. Fifty-eight percent of high school seniors reported they had recently texted with friends when they should have been paying attention to the road.

In North Carolina, texting behind the wheel is considered a primary offense. That means a driver can be pulled over solely for that reason if the officer sees him or her texting. Unfortunately, convictions have been somewhat tough to come by. WRAL.com reports that in a recent year, there were 1,458 texting-while-driving citations issued in Wake County, which was 300 more than the year before. However, that same year, of the 1,367 that moved their way through the criminal justice system and were disposed of, only about half of the drivers ultimately paid the $290 fine. The other half, in most cases, fought the citation and won.

As one defense attorney noted, the way the statute is written, it’s tough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in court. In order for prosecutors to prove an individual was texting or emailing while driving, they almost need to get a search warrant to comb through the phone’s history. Of course, in car accident cases that involve more serious injury or death, authorities may take that step. However, they usually aren’t going to initiate such a move for every citation they issue.

Further, the law is only applicable to moving vehicles. Someone stopped at a red light or stop sign is allowed to email or text. Someone who is operating a moving vehicle can’t text, but they can legally scroll through their contacts or type in their phone’s GPS. Here again, proving exactly what the driver was doing at the time the citation was issued is not always a simple matter.

The only exception is drivers under 18 and school bus drivers, neither of whom are allowed to use their cell phones at all while driving unless it is an emergency.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Woman was in mid-text when she caused Wake County 4-vehicle crash, troopers say, July 6, 2016, CBS North Carolina

More Blog Entries:

New Rental Car Law Protects Carolina Drivers, July 9, 2016, Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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