The culture and behavior while driving are among the most important and responsible things a modern individual has to possess. Most accidents happen because of careless driving and dangerous practices of people who either do not take it too seriously or do not even realize that their driving skills are not on a satisfactory level. Too many people lose their lives every year because of the events that could have easily been prevented had the guilty person not been distracted. Once the statistics are available, we are all saddened and appalled at the number of fatalities and injuries as well as the damage left by the numerous accidents that happen on the roads.
Since such data is simply too diverse and too large to talk about and dissect in full and on a wider scale, in this article we will be focusing on a single American state, North Carolina (NC). Like anywhere else in the world there have been numerous modern attempts at regulating distracted driving in an effort to save lives. In case you wish to know more about them as well as everything else surrounding North Carolina and its driving laws, make sure to carefully read through the rest of the article.
While most people may have their own idea about what it means to drive while being distracted by something, there are actually clear indicators to whether or not it is the situation. Engaging in anything that takes your mind, eyes, or actions from the steering and controlling the vehicle is considered distracted driving. This means that even the simplest actions like adjusting the AC for too long, engaging with the infotainment system too actively, arguing with other people in the vehicle, and consuming food and drinks are all problematic.
However, the most dangerous thing by far and at the same time the most common way people put their lives and the lives of others in traffic in danger is using a mobile phone while driving. While the rest of the distracting actions are legal, using a mobile phone is not and yet millions still do it all the time. In North Carolina, the law focuses primarily on the prevention of texting, emailing, and using phones without the proper hands-free gadgets. Can you text and drive and stay alive? Find out here.
Statistics and Data
In this American state, it is estimated that 19.70% of all driver error traffic accidents are caused by distracted driving. While it is much less than the 33.30% of those that happened due to speeding, it is still a number that should definitely go down. Driving under the influence of alcohol causes only 4.10% of accidents which is a very low number when the USA and global averages are concerned.
In 2017 alone there were over 54,000 traffic accidents related to distracted driving with more than 25,000 injurers and 152 deaths. When drivers under the age of 18 are concerned, the numbers sadly rise as 27.3% of all accidents by young drivers are caused by distractions. This is somewhat expected sadly because they are the ones who use smartphones and engage in other potentially dangerous situations out of the lack of experience and better judgment. All in all, the numbers should definitely be lower and luckily there are serious efforts to bring them down as soon as possible.
What Does the Law Cover?
The laws against distracted driving in the state do exist and are doing a good job, but they are somewhat restricted and it cannot be argued that more is necessary. At the moment, the state prohibits texting and emailing of all sorts and under-18 drivers on provisional licenses must not use cell phones in any way, shape, or form. Hands-free solutions are also not allowed for young drivers who are still learning are gaining experience. School bus drivers also must not use cell phones in any situation. Certain exceptions do exist, however, as under-18 drivers have permission to call parents since it is considered an emergency. You can still send and receive messages at a red light and use headphones or headsets for calls.
There are also certain shortcomings of the laws in power since you are technically legally allowed to eat while driving. This does not mean that you should but you will not have problems with the law if they spot you. However, you will be putting your life in danger and the safety of traffic at risk. The same goes for drinking, putting or removing makeup, and anything else that occupies the mind, eyes, and hands. There have been bills that aimed to ban all distracted driving but none such law still exists.
Another important part of the whole distracted driving law in North Carolina is primary and secondary enforcement. The former are those according to which a police officer can pull the driver over if they clearly see a violation of driving laws. The latter is reserved for laws that state that police can pull you over only if you are breaking other laws by being distracted.
What About the Fines?
Of course, fines are the easiest way of preventing the drivers from engaging in breaking the law and endangering others in traffic. Sadly, people seem to value the loss of their money more than the loss of their life or serious injury because it is hard enough for most that they could die. Paying for your mistakes with money has seemed to be worse than paying for your well-being in recent times.
Fines for distracted driving in North Carolina could be higher especially considering that there are efforts to limit the accidents. For using a phone to text or email, the fine is $100. If the driver is under 18 and does not yet have a real license but uses a cell, $25 is the punishment. School bus drivers will have to set aside $100 if they use a cell phone while doing their job. These are the only fines related to driving under distractions in NC as of right now, and we must say that more needs to be done to save lives in the future.