Distracted Driving in the New Tech Age in North Carolina
Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaging in another activity. In doing so the driver puts not only himself, but his passengers and other persons on the road at risk of harm. It is a breach of the driver’s duty of care while driving. In fact, it is a deadly breach. In 2015 in the United States, 3,477 people were killed by distracted driving, that’s triple the amount of all vehicular fatalities in North Carolina that same year. Distracted driving is not something to get distracted about. This article helps shed light on the topic.
TYPES OF DRIVING DISTRACTIONS
The United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, lists the following activities as top distractions while driving.
- Using a cell phone or smartphone; including texting, talking, dialing, surfing the internet, and taking selfies;
- Configuring other devices that are part of the car, including GPS, heater/AC, radio or other music player, and rearview mirrors;
- Talking to passengers;
- Applying makeup/grooming;
- Eating and drinking;
- Listening to loud music;
- Smoking, including lighting up, looking for cigarettes or matches, using the ashtray;
- Reading (books, magazines or maps);
- Generally lost in thought; and
- Unsecured pets that are traveling in the car.
3 CLASSIFICATIONS OF DISTRACTION
All of the above activities can be catalogued under three classifications of distracted driving:
(1) manual, which means taking your hands off the wheel;
(2) visual, which means taking your eyes off the road; and
(3) cognitive, which means taking your mind off driving.
Some of the above-activities can be categorized in more than one classification. For instance, if there’s an unsecured pet in the car, you take your hands off to keep the pet away and when doing so, you take your eyes off the road to pay attention to the animal. One distraction above all others reigns large in all three classifications: texting while driving. It generally requires you to manually take your hands off the wheel to unlock the phone and text a message or dial a number. It also requires that you look at the screen. Finally, it requires your attention so that you type the right message or say the right thing. Through these three acts, your hands, eyes and mind are all where they shouldn’t be. Collisions are bound to happen, and they do.
CELLPHONE USE WHILE DRIVING IN NORTH CAROLINA
In North Carolina, texting has been banned from all driving so long as the vehicle is in motion. This ban includes composing, reading and/or sending text messages, e-mails, or the like while driving. The one exception is if the car is not in motion.
Exception: If you are behind the wheel, but the car is completely stopped or parked, not idling, then texting is not illegal.
There is also a distinction made in North Carolina’s laws with regard to cellphone use generally but not texting specifically. North Carolina drivers are permitted to talk on a cellphone while driving, unless you are a novice driver or a bus driver.
Exception: If you are either a novice driver (drivers below the age of 18) or bus driver, you are prohibited from using a cellphone in any shape, way or form while driving.
Though the consequences of driving and using the cellphone are dire, the penalty is relatively minimal. If found in violation, a novice driver is subject to a $25 fine while an adult driver is subject to a $100 fine.
DISTRACTED DRIVING’S SERIOUS MANDATE
Though most of us hear its dangers, we don’t act in accordance. Why? Because we always think it won’t happen to us. Tell that to the guy who is now in jail for texting his girlfriend, and in doing so looked away from the road for 20 seconds, only to bring his attention to the road again to slam on his breaks: he hit a person. Or tell it to the girlfriend who texted her last message to her boyfriend. She was so distracted while texting that she caused a wreck and died. It can happen to you, and you need to act accordingly.
Nonetheless, a survey conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that though 90 percent of the adult surveyed recognized cellphone use and its dangers while driving, they made excuses for their own bad behavior. In fact, 35 percent of them admitted to texting or e-mailing while driving within the last 30 days of which the survey was taken.
And what about the children of these adults. Teenagers specifically are at high risk of distracted driving by use of cellphone. In fact, AAA has dubbed the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the “100 Deadliest Days.” Every day on average there are 10 car wrecks involving teenagers using the cellphone while driving. These teenagers, AAA finds, are not just texting and e-mailing, but they are also engaging social media, which means there attention away from the road is much longer than a text message.
If you’re a parent, though, and want to take charge of your child’s distracted driving, you can invest in new software. For instance Aegis mobility has developed software that essentially shuts the phone off and prevents a person from using it if the car is moving more than 10 miles per hour. Your child will likely get angry over it, but that’s better than any unimaginable alternative.
DISTRACTED DRIVING & ACQUIRING AN ATTORNEY
Though distracted driving laws have minimal fines, the real penalty, of course, transpires if there was a car wreck and if there were any personal injuries. If you are the victim of such a collision, you will need an experienced attorney. Distracted driving may sometimes be difficult to prove, but with experience and skill, the right attorney can help you. Contact Brown Moore & Associates, LLC, if you have been injured in an accident and seek resourceful car accident lawyers in Charlotte, NC to represent you and your interests.