Recently in texting while driving Category

November 25, 2012

Driving & Talking Ban in North Carolina Unlikely in 2013

Cell phone map.jpegOnly four states in the U.S. currently ban cell phone use while driving. Florida appears ready to join the list, as the newest version of a bill banning all cell phone use while driving has just been filed. North Carolina will probably not be joining that list anytime soon.

Last year, during the 2011-2012 Legislative sessions, Garland Pierce, Democrat-Scotland, introduced a bill banning all cell phone use. The bill encountered significant opposition while it was in committee, most notably from Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger. Several committee members remarked that they felt the bill infringed on citizens' rights. What they could not articulate was which specific rights they felt the bill might be infringing upon. That outcry was enough to effectively kill the bill, as Representative Pierce withdrew the bill, rather than have it die a slow death in committee.

One town in North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has shown some independent responsibility by banning all cell phone use within the town's city limits. That sounds pretty strong, but the law had so many loopholes that it was really just a symbolic law aimed at spurring the North Carolina Legislature to act responsibly and pass a stronger state law restricting cell phone use. The Chapel Hill law was over-turned by a Superior Court Judge in August in a ruling that found the town ordinance was preempted by the current state law that limits cell phone use while driving.

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June 8, 2012

CDC Study Confirms Suspicions About Teen Texting While Driving

texting-while-driving 6-8-12.jpg The recently released results from a study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) establishes what most safety experts had already suspected: teenagers are still texting while driving, despite knowing the risks.

The study found that one-third of high school students admitted they had texted or emailed while driving within the previous 30 days. The study gathered information from approximately 15,000 high school student across the United States.

High school seniors reported the highest percentage of the dangerous activity. About 43 percent of 11th graders and 58 percent of 12th graders admitted texting or emailing while driving in the 30 days prior to the study.

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January 15, 2012

A Computer Device That Stops Your Child From Texting While Driving

cell control device.jpgYou've heard the statistics: nearly 6000 dead and over 500,000 injured. The death and destruction on our roads continues, and at a recent safety summit in Washington, D.C., the experts are blaming cell phones.

A device at the recent 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), received a big award for stopping texting while driving.

A company called "Scosche" introduced CellControl. The electronic device plugs into a computer port in your car and after downloading an app to your, or your child's, smartphone, it restricts cell phone use if the vehicle is moving.

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April 6, 2011

Consumer Reports Finds Young Adults Texting While Driving

texting-while-driving.jpgA sobering study by Consumer Reports regarding mobile device use for drivers under the age of 30 recently found that of those surveyed:

63% used a cell phone while driving in the last 30 days;

30% texted while driving in the past 30 days;

Only 36 % were very concerned with distracted driving;

Only 30% thought using a cell phone while driving was very dangerous; and

58% saw a dangerous situation because of distracted driving in the last 30 days.

Consumer Reports released this data just as it is beginning a joint public services campaign with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The campaign aims to bring awareness of the dangers of distracted driving to young people.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, distracted driving injured almost half a million people in 2009, and killed nearly 5,500. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that dialing a phone makes it six times more likely to get into an accident, while texting while driving multiplies the chance of an accident by 23.

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February 21, 2011

North Carolina Moves Forward To Ban Cell Phones While Driving

cell phones prohibited.jpgWith the epidemic of texting while driving causing more and more serious crashes, injuries and deaths, the North Carolina Legislature is taking up the issue of a total ban of cell phones while driving a motor vehicle. North Carolina Lawyers Weekly covered the story this week.

Representatives Garland Pierce, D-Hoke, and Charles Graham, D-Robeson, filed the bill to ban cell phone use while driving on February 2, 2011. The bill is known as H. 31 and is titled, "An act to make using a mobile phone unlawful while driving a motor vehicle on a public street or highway or public vehicular area." The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee.

The bill basically bans any use of a cell phone, even via blue tooth hands-free technology, while one is operating a motor vehicle. This ban would include school bus drivers. The only exception under the new bill would be in the case of an emergency.

The penalty for violating the proposed new law would be a $100 fine and no insurance points.

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January 30, 2011

Teen Texting While Driving Continues Despite Deaths & Laws

With public attention focused on decreasing the use of cell phones in cars, by both teenage drivers and adults as well, data from the most recent studies indicate the danger continues to grow. The number of serious crashes and deaths caused by distracted driving certainly continues to increase. While almost every state has passed laws that make it illegal to send or receive text and/or email messages while driving, these laws have proved ineffective at stopping the dangerous behavior. The latest numbers show that almost 6000 people are dying each year from car crashes caused by distracted driving.

There are two basic problems with the current approach, first enforcement is difficult for police officers because it is not illegal to dial a cellphone while driving, so identifying someone who is actually texting while driving is all but impossible unless the officer observes a driver weaving all over the road, then pulls the driver over, asks them if they were texting or emailing, and the driver actually admits to the illegal activity. According to court records reviewed by the Associated Press, this process has resulted in approximately 1200 people receiving tickets under the "texting ban" in North Carolina since the law went into effect in December of 2009. The second problem is that many drivers fail to appreciate the deadly danger.

Studies that have interviewed teens and adults find that most people who text while driving feel that they can text and also drive safely. They feel that they can look away from the road and still keep their car under control. This is a naive attitude at best. As this author has asserted in prior posts, education is the key to solving his social epidemic.

The Distracted Driving Safety Alliance (DDSA) is taking steps to gather and educate individuals and organizations from all across society to find ways to curb all behaviors that distract teens and adults alike. Educating all drivers about the "best practices" for driving is something the the DDSA is trying to accomplish. Here are the DDSA's best practices for new drivers:

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January 7, 2011

Texting While Driving Claims Another North Carolina Teen's Life

chocowinity-teen-killed-in-accident.jpgAnother North Carolina teenager has tragically died as a result of texting while driving. WITN news just reported that yesterday afternoon at 3:42pm, Sarah Edwards appears to have glanced down at her cell phone to read a text message. That distraction caused her Honda Accord to drift across the yellow line into the on-coming lane where it struck the rear tandems of a tractor-trailer logging truck. She died instantly. The collision occurred on Chandler Road in Beaufort County. Her cell phone records show that she read a text message one minute before the first of several 911 calls were placed reporting the collision.

Ms. Edwards, 18 of Chocowinity, was a senior at Southside High School in Washington. Her funeral is this Saturday at 11 a.m. at Pamlico Memorial Gardens in Washington.

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November 11, 2010

Education Is The Key To Stopping North Carolina Teens From Distracted Driving

distracted driving.jpgDistracted driving is killing teenagers at an alarming rate. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been on a rampage against distracted driving by teens for more than a year, but studies show that distracted driving by teens continues despite teenagers' knowledge of its dangers. Last month, teenage drivers nationwide pledged to take two seconds to turn off their cell phones and other wireless devices before driving a motor vehicle. These pledges were part of a National Two-Second Turnoff Day sponsored by AAA, Seventeen and the US Department of Transportation. A recent survey by AAA and the popular teen magazine Seventeen showed that nearly 9 our of 10 teen drivers have driven while distracted, even though almost 85% of them know its dangerous.

The key to stopping distracted driving is not telling teen drivers how dangerous it is, that is just preaching to the choir. They all know how dangerous it is, but they do not think anything bad could happen to them. Education on this topic must involve and engage teenagers. The below video is a great place to start this education:

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August 30, 2010

Juror Faces Criminal Contempt For Facebook Post

facebook juror.jpgA young female juror near Detroit will face a contempt of court hearing this coming Thursday. Her crime? She defied a judge's Order that she not discuss the case on which she was sitting - a criminal trial against a 40-year-old Clinton Township resident charged with a misdemeanor and a felony for resisting arrest. Hadley Jons, 20 of Macomb County, Michigan, received the same warning as all of the other jurors chosen to hear the criminal trial. But, apparently, she was the only juror to post her thoughts about which way she would vote on Facebook.

On Facebook, Jons wrote that she was "actually excited for jury duty tomorrow. It's gonna be fun to tell the defendant they're GUILTY. :P."

The defense lawyer's son, Jaxon Goodman, found the post on-line on August 11th. The defendant's lawyer, Saleema Sheikh, informed the judge before court the next morning. The judge then questioned Jon's if she had posted anything about the case on Facebook. She originally denied it, but then she reportedly put her face down and failed to answer when the judge read the post out-loud in open court.

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August 23, 2010

Guilford Teen Charged With Texting While Driving & Hit and Run

Hit & Run.jpgAs safety advocates and parents continue to preach the dangers of texting while driving, teenagers continue to test the texting laws to the detriment and harm of everyone else. Last week, Justin Wallace, a 19 year old Connecticutt man, showed up in Superior Court to be formally charged with a host of minor crimes arising out of his texting while driving hit & run fiasco with a pedestrian.

In the early evening of July 24, Lori Walsh was walking single file with her dog and two children down Tanner Marsh Road. At the same time, Wallace was driving his father's 1997 tan Toyota Camry in the same direction as the mother and children were walking. Wallace was sending and receiving text messages on his cell phone as he drove down the road. He knew it was against the law but didn't think he would get caught.


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July 4, 2010

Motor Vehicle Crashes Are Top Teen Killer In North Carolina

teen driver.jpgThe leading cause of death for teenagers, ages 16 to 19, in North Carolina is motor vehicle crashes. This unpleasant statistic applies across the U.S. as well. In 2008, 9 teenagers died every day from injuries in car wrecks. More teens are killed in car crashes than in any other way. Thus far, almost all states have taken some action to try and reduce teen crashes. But the restrictions vary greatly from state to state.

In North Carolina, the state legislature implemented a graduated driver's licensing (GDL) law that restricts teenagers' right to drive. The law places more restrictions on younger drivers and eases those restrictions as the driver increases in age.

A recent study analyzing the hospitalization rates for teen drivers in North Carolina shows that the GDL system is working. Since the GDL program went into effect, the hospitalization rate for teenagers between 16 and 19 years of age has decreased. The study concluded that the decrease was due to reduced exposure to dangerous situations (e.g. several teenagers in a single vehicle) than to improved driving skills.

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June 27, 2010

"Do As I Say & Not As I Do" - Adults Are Texting & Driving Too

texting while driving adult.jpgA new national study by the Pew Research Center finds that adults are just as likely to have sent text messages while driving as teenagers, and adults are much more likely to have talked on their cell phone while driving when compared to teenagers.

While much attention has recently been focused on teen texting while driving due to several fatal crashes, it appears that adults are just as deserving of similar attention and education. The study's statistics are startling, and it makes this author think that we adults need to look in the mirror before we are so quick to judge our teenagers.

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June 12, 2010

Stopping Asheville Teens From Texting While Driving

texting-while-driving cartoon.jpgMost adults recognize the dangers associated with texting while driving, but many teens do not appear to appreciate how serious a danger it can be. The facts about distracted driving are startling:

1. Using a cell phone while driving decreases the amount of brain activity connected with driving by 37% (source: Carnegie Mellon);

2. More than 6,000 people were killed by distracted drivers in car accidents in 2008, and more than 500,000 people were seriously injured (source: NHTSA);

3. Drivers under 20 years of age are responsible for the vast majority of distraction related fatal collisions;

4. Texting drivers are five times more likely to cause a car accident serious enough to put themselves in the emergency room (source: Insurance Institute For Highway Safety); and

5. Using a cell phone while driving decreases a driver's reaction time to the same degree as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% - the legal limit in North Carolina (source: University of Utah).

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May 21, 2010

Teen Texting Responsible For Increase in North Carolina Crashes

With the recent death of an Asheville teen caused by texting while driving, more attention is being focused on this extremely dangerous activity. Thus far, 25 states have passed laws banning texting while driving. In North Carolina, the ban went into effect on January 1, 2010, and the penalty if you get caught texting while driving is $100.00. So far, few North Carolina citizens have been caught breaking the new law, but, as anyone who is on the road knows, the illegal activity is rampant on our roads and highways.

Given the difficulty of enforcing the new law, the North Carolina Highway Patrol has taken a new strategy aimed at educating teen drivers when they are first learning to drive. The Highway Patrol is encouraging teen drivers to text while driving a golf cart around a parking lot full of orange cones. The results are eye opening for the teen drivers as they run over multiple cones while trying to navigate sharp turns and stop at stop signs. The golf cart experience is gaining popularity across the state and the nation. Each student in Lenoir and Duplin County will get behind the wheel of the golf cart before the end of the school year.

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May 15, 2010

Teen Texting While Driving Caused Deadly Asheville Accident

text messaging.jpgOn Friday, Asheville Police disclosed that they had accessed the information stored in Ashley Johnson's cellphone. Police investigators who examined the Arden teenager's cellphone stated that the information showed that Johnson, 16, was retrieving a text message just seconds before the BMW she was driving crossed the center line and struck an MB Haynes pickup truck head-on. Investigators also retrieved data stored in Johnson's vehicle's airbag module to determine her pre-impact speed. The airbag module showed that the she was traveling 52 mph. The posted speed limit for Long Shoals Road is 45 mph. The driver of the pickup truck suffered injuries, but he is expected to recover.

Emergency workers airlifted Johnson to Mission Hospital's Trauma Unit, and she remained in the Intensive Care Unit for several days before she eventually died from her injuries. This is a terrible tragedy that should never have happened.

The 10th grader was an exceptional and popular student. She attended Buncombe County Early College, where she was working toward earning her associate degree.

I have several prior posts about the deadly dangers associated with texting while driving. Unfortunately, many people feel that, if they are careful, they can safely text while they are driving. This is impossible. Several studies have shown that if you text while driving your attention level is worse than that of a drunk driver. In fact, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to have a deadly accident that a non-texting driver.

Several mobile applications (apps) are on the market to help us restrict our, and our teenage children who drive, impulse to text while driving. Applications that can deactivate a phone's ability to send or receive texts while in motion are quite effective.

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