If Lee's bill passes, NC would become 15th state to adopt cellphone rule for drivers
RALEIGH -- Motorists would have to use hands-free devices for cellphones while driving under a bill sponsored by N.C. Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover.
Senate Bill 364 is named after Brian Garlock, a Charlotte teen who was killed in 2008 when he was driving while talking on a cellphone. The bill has been proposed before, but hasn't yet passed the General Assembly.
"We need to start the conversation on that," Lee said.
The bill would cite violators with up to a $200 fine.
North Carolina would be the 15th state to adopt a law requiring hands-free use of cellphones while driving if the law is passed.
In 2015, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
"You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention," the NHTSA stated on its website. "Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing."
The organization estimated that up to 660,000 drivers are using cellphones while driving.
"That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads," the NHTSA website said.
But the results of going hands-free may be negligible, according to the National Safety Council, which warns that hands-free use of cellphones while driving is no safer. The organization said drivers remain distracted even with hands-free devices and recommends that people simply not use phones while driving.
"Think using a hands-free device while driving makes you safer? Think again," said the National Safety Council website. "In order to stay safe, you need your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on driving."
As of Wednesday, SB 364 had passed its first reading and was in the Senate Rules committee, where legislation is often sent to cool its heels before leadership determines if it has enough political support to potentially move forward.
Reporter Tim Buckland can be reached at 910-343-2217 or Tim.Buckland@StarNewsOnline.com.