With summertime approaching and lawmakers in many states wrapping up their work for the year, there is a wave of support in statehouse across the country to outlaw texting while driving.
Colorado recently became one of 14 states to ban the practice of operating a motor vehicle while reading, typing or sending text messages. North Carolina lawmakers also added their state to the list of states to enact bans this year.
Intended to help reduce a contributing factor to distracted driving, the new law in Colorado calls for violators to face $50 fines. It takes effect Dec. 1.
Previously HB1094, the new law also makes it illegal for drivers under 18 to talk on handheld cell phones while driving. Hand-free devices are allowed. Exceptions also will be made for emergency calls.
In the Tar Heel State, Gov. Beverly Perdue signed into law a texting ban for drivers. HB9 calls for violators to face $100 fines.
North Carolina law already bars drivers under 18 from the practice and they cannot use cell phones, either.
Attempts nationwide to curb the practice of using the devices while driving have intensified in recent months. Advocates for the ban cite a Nationwide Mutual Insurance survey, which found one in five drivers “texting” while driving. That number nearly doubles for drivers aged 18 to 27.
Critics say enforcement could be difficult. Police would have to pull alongside a moving vehicle and stay there long enough to determine that the driver is texting and not entering a phone number into a cell phone before pulling them over.
In addition to Colorado and North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia have enacted laws in recent months to ban texting while driving. The bans in the two states take effect July 1. A similar bill is on the governor’s desk in Illinois.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
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