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What Are North Carolina’s Distracted Driving Laws?

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a person using a smartphone while driving

Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous activities a person can participate in. Yet, thousands of people do it every day. According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there were more than 285,000 crashes in 2019 and nearly 20% of those crashes involved distracted driving. That’s why the state is cracking down on distracted driving now more than ever before.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is more than taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds to answer a text message. It could also be looking at the radio to change the music playing, or taking a bite of the food you picked up at a drive-thru. If you’re traveling at 60 mph, you will travel more than the length of a football field in just two seconds. Those two seconds looking down at your phone or doing something other than looking at the road could become catastrophic, if not deadly, for you, your passengers, and other drivers. In 2019, 154 people lost their lives due to distracted driving crashes, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

What Laws Do North Carolina Have About Distracted Driving?

Each state is different when it comes to its distracted driving laws, especially involving cell phone usage. In North Carolina, it is against the law to text or email while driving. Additionally, drivers under the age of 18 with provisional licenses are also not allowed to use their cell phone at all in a vehicle, unless they are calling their parents or emergency responders. However, adult drivers are allowed to use their cell phones while driving. The exception to that rule are school bus drivers — they are not allowed to use a cell phone or any mobile device while the bus is in motion, unless it is for an emergency situation.

The North Carolina distracted driving rules also state that mobile devices are not allowed for drivers of certain commercial vehicles. This ban is focused on commercial vehicles traveling to and from multiple states and is more strict than the federal prohibition. The law also applies to certain private carriers and vehicles. Those who receive multiple violations for distracted driving while in a commercial vehicle could lose their driving privileges.

What if I’m at a Red Light, Can I Text Then?

No. It is illegal to have any form of texting and driving in a majority of the states in the U.S. In fact, a driver could receive a ticket if they’re caught texting at all unless they are at their parked destination.

What Are the Consequences of Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving can have devastating consequences for the driver as well as anyone near them. Driving a vehicle while not looking at the road is essentially like an unguided missile of metal barrelling down the highway. Distracted driving accidents often cause injuries including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Severe burn injuries
  • Injuries requiring amputation
  • Quadriplegia or paraplegia

Such devastating injuries can easily slap a patient with medical bills ranging into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. If you or someone you love has been injured by a distracted driver, you should not have to pay these bills out of your own pocket when the other driver’s negligence caused the crash. With an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner, you could recover compensation for the following damages:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

In addition to any passersby facing devastating consequences for distracted driving, the penalties for the driver can be severe as well. Law enforcement officers can pull over a driver if they see them texting or sending an email behind the wheel as the offense is considered a primary enforcement law. If charged on federal property, there’s even the possibility your case would go to federal court rather than a local jurisdiction.

For drivers who are under the age of 18 and caught using a phone while driving, they’ll face a $25 fine in addition to the charges the law enforcement officer files. Teens under the age of 18 will not receive any points on their license or increased insurance charges. However, the same is not true for adults. Law enforcement officers can charge points on a driver’s license, which can lead to higher insurance costs. An adult driver will also face a $100 fine in addition to any court costs. If a bus driver is caught texting or sending an email behind the wheel, the fine could be even higher.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a distracted driver, you’ll want Lanier Law Group, P.A. on your side. Our firm has decades of experience representing victims injured in car crashes and we can help you every step of the way. Start your free consultation by calling us today — (855) 757-4204

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