North Carolina Proposed Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving

After a decade of proposed cell phone bans, North Carolina lawmakers may finally pass one of the three proposed bills in the current 2011 state legislative session. Of the trio of bills, one would allow hands free phones and the other two would ban all types of cell phone use while driving.

In December 2009, North Carolina passed a ban on driving while text messaging and more than 1,200 drivers have been ticketed since then. The state has also prohibited school bus drivers and drivers under age 18 from using cell phones in any way while driving.

Using a cell phone is one of the most dangerous types of distraction while on the road. Distraction has been broken down into three parts: visual, cognitive and manual. Using a cell phone is especially dangerous because it incorporates all three elements of distraction.

According to the University of Utah, using either a hands-free or handheld device while driving substantially delays a driver's reactions. It is similar to having a blood alcohol content of .08 percent, the legal limit.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that drivers who use a cell phone while driving are four times more likely to be involved in serious car crashes that could result in severe injury or death.

Citizens of North Carolina have high hopes for this year's ban, partly because the bill is supported by House Speaker Thom Tillis. He and other lawmakers took part in an experiment set up by the state Highway Patrol. They drove golf carts around a course while either using a cell phone or not using a phone, to see the difference in ability and concentration.

The question seems to be whether the ban will cover all types of phones, or handheld devices only. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has analyzed 120 other studies of cell phones and driving and has found that chances of an accident stay the same whether a driver is using a handheld or hands-free device.