As the federal government continues its focus on eliminating distracted driving, North Carolina highway patrol officers are stepping up their efforts to prevent such risky behavior on the road over the holiday season. Last summer, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the Transportation Department encouraged states to enact laws to limit cellphone use on the road.
Most states currently have some laws prohibiting certain behaviors on the road, such as texting or answering a handheld cellphone. The National Highway Transportation Safety Board has suggested that drivers be banned from using cellphones for any purpose while behind the wheel.
Distracted driving refers to more than just cellphone usage, however. Drivers can be distracted by a variety of factors including GPS devices, changing the radio station, or talking to other passengers in the vehicle. Nevertheless, cellphones continue to be a major source of driver distraction, and will likely continue to be as cellphones become ever more present in our daily lives.
North Carolina distracted driving accidents
As every state has enacted its own laws regarding distracted driving, motorists should ensure they are familiar with the regulations in their state. In North Carolina, all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. Text messaging has become a popular mode of communication among all age groups. During just one month - June 2011 - there were over 196 billion texts sent or received in the United States. That figure represented almost a 50 percent increase from two years prior.
Both bus drivers and novice drivers in North Carolina are also banned from using any type of cellphone - hands-free and handheld - while behind the wheel. In North Carolina, novice drivers are all those under 18 years of age.
These laws are all meant to combat the large number of people involved and injured in distracted driving accidents in North Carolina each year. According to the Department of Transportation, an average of almost 58,000 people was involved in distracted driving collisions each year in North Carolina during the period from 2004 to 2008. In addition, an average of 13,000 people in North Carolina sustains personal injuries in such accidents and there are approximately 119 fatalities each year.
Across the country, it is estimated that almost 5,500 people die each year because of distracted driving accidents.
If you have been involved in such a crash, the responsible party should be accountable for the damage caused. Consulting with a knowledgeable Winston-Salem personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected and just compensation is received.