Compared to many other states, North Carolina has limited laws against using mobile devices while driving motor vehicles. In 2019, the state legislature made it clear that no one of any age can legally send or read text messages while on the road. The primary exception to this rule applies to people working for law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and ambulance services.
Why Mobile Device Usage While Driving Is a Threat
Government and private researchers have collected data for years on the hazards of cell phone use while driving. The statistics clearly point to an increased risk of car accidents that cause injury and death when people are distracted by their mobile devices.
- Using your cell phone behind the wheel diverts your attention by as much as 37%.
- Cell phones have been blamed in 14% of fatal crashes.
- Every year, approximately 1.6 million accidents arise from cell phone use.
- Texting and driving increase the risk of an accident by 23 times.
North Carolina Mobile Device Laws for Drivers
The documented traffic hazards attributed to mobile devices resulted in a state law that prohibits typing or reading text messages while you are in traffic. However, you may park in a legal area to text. Young people under the age of 18 cannot use handheld mobile phones to make or receive calls. Adults, however, still may legally use their handheld devices while driving.
Drivers of commercial vehicles frequently fall under stricter rules outlined by the federal government. In many cases, they may not use handheld devices whilst driving. They can, however, use global positioning systems (GPS) installed in their vehicles and other wireless devices when communicating with dispatchers.
Law enforcement may stop you if an officer suspects that you are texting and driving. This is referred to as primary enforcement because police do not need another reason to initiate a traffic stop. An officer may write you a ticket that results in a $100 fine.
No Driver’s License Points for a Texting Ticket
Although no one welcomes a $100 traffic citation, state law specifically states that the texting-and-driving ticket will not result in points on your driver’s license. As a result, the ticket alone should not negatively impact your auto insurance rates.
Your Auto Insurance Rates Will Rise for an At-Fault Accident
Drivers may get a texting-and-driving ticket in conjunction with other citations that could add points to their licenses. Should you cause an accident where you are deemed to be the at-fault party, then you can expect your insurer to increase your auto insurance premium by as much as 60%.
Texting and Driving Ticket Not Proof of Driver Negligence
A car accident attorney will often be asked if mobile device use by a driver is proof of negligence. People hurt by distracted drivers want to prove negligence and recover damages, but North Carolina law is clear in this regard. A citation for texting and driving does NOT represent per se negligence. Per se negligence means that an action automatically proves negligence even without other supporting negligence. In contrast, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs does equal per se negligence.
When representing a car or truck accident victim, a car accident attorney in this state needs to document other evidence beyond allegations of texting and driving to demonstrate negligence. Due to the distraction caused by texting and driving, many accidents result from other traffic errors. Speeding, failing to yield, or crossing the center line are all things that a distracted driver might do, and such acts could prove fault. Under many circumstances, an injured person gains the right to collect compensation upon establishing the other party’s responsibility for the collision.
North Carolina Might Strengthen Laws… Eventually
A bipartisan group of state legislatures has tried to advance a bill that would have restricted drivers to hands-free mobile devices. However, the Senate in 2021 chose not to grant the proposal a committee hearing.
If the bill had advanced and passed, the new law would have put North Carolina on par with 25 other states that do not allow drivers to hold their devices. The state can expect to see efforts to reintroduce this bill in the future. One of the senators in support of the bill said it was “important to keep trying due to the dangers posed by talking on cell phones in traffic”.
Get Legal Advice After an Accident
Although you may be disappointed to learn that cell phone use does not automatically make another driver liable for your damages, a distracted driver has a higher likelihood of being at fault in some way. A North Carolina car accident law firm has the resources to investigate an accident and potentially find evidence in support of your case. We may discover facts beyond what the police noted in the accident report.
Also, keep in mind that legal representation may prepare you to interact with your insurer and a third-party insurer. Insurers use conversations with you as a means of collecting information that might be used to devalue your claim. An experienced car accident lawyer can help a case be evaluated based on the facts and not on speculation.
Call us today on 1-800-ACCIDENT
“We’re With You All The Way”