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North Carolina's Texting Ban Is Not Clearly Defined

North Carolina has had a ban on texting while driving for a little over a year. This law carries a $100 fine for each offense and can adversely affect drivers in other ways as well, including insurance rate increases. In some cases, police may even charge a suspect with reckless driving.

Studies have shown that texting while driving is dangerous because it decreases focus and significantly slows reaction time. Therefore a ban is perhaps warranted. However, the law as it is currently written is vague and does not allow for advancements in phone technology. This could result in some big problems and disagreements when it comes to enforcement.

For instance, smart phones are adding new applications all the time. The wording of the law bans texting and using email while driving. However, there are countless other applications which are not expressly banned by the law. In fact, some are expressly permitted.

The law specifically allows the use of GPS navigation on a smart phone while driving. However, this is arguably as distracting as texting or emailing while driving. Furthermore, when a teenager has just been pulled over for texting, it may be difficult for him to prove that he was actually using GPS navigation. Since most traffic citations rely heavily on police testimony, a driver can easily be given a fine for engaging in a legally protected activity.

Whether it's the law or not, most people agree that distracted driving is an unsafe practice. But if a distracted driving ban is in place, it must be clearly defined and allow for the expansion of technology. Until that happens, North Carolina's texting while driving ban should be considered unjust.

Source:, "Texting while driving law not so straightforward," Bruce Siceloff, 28 December 2010

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