Senate Bill 20, a bipartisan state bill titled “Hands Free NC”, was introduced at the end of January. This bill would ban the use of hand-held cellphones and other wireless devices while driving. If signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper, the bill would go into effect July 1.
It has primary sponsors such as Republicans Jim Burgin of Johnson County and Kevin Corbin of Cherokee County, and Democrat Mike Woodard of Durham County. Republican Senator Vickie Sawyer of Yadkin County is a co-sponsor.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 25 states have bans on hand-held cellphone use, also including Tennessee and Virginia. North Carolina is among 48 states that already bans texting while driving. That law went into effect in 2009.
Burgin said Senate Bill 20 is needed as one of the public health safety measures, similar to when seatbelts were made mandatory. The bill’s primary sponsors plan to hold a press conference on the legislation some time in February.
“Using a wireless communication device not only affects you, but a lot of other people when you are distracted while driving,” said Burgin, who describes himself as a Libertarian on most social regulatory issues. He agrees with the legislature conference’s assessment that at least 80% of all drivers have used their wireless communication device while operating a vehicle.
Senate Bill 20 has penalties which include fines of between $100 and $200 and between one and two insurance points for multiple offenses. The bill also reinforces the ban on texting and also bans driving while watching a video, movie or communication via video. However, the bill does not allow for law enforcement to seize the driver’s wireless communication device.
“We support the concept of combating distracted driving, which has become an epidemic on our roads,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club in the Carolinas.
The Traffic Safety Foundation of AAA is committed to tackling distracted driving and continues to spread awareness with the Disconnect and Drive campaign. Joining the commitment to drive distraction-free benefits everyone on the roads. We encourage you to put down the phone and take the pledge to Disconnect and Drive today.