CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 7, 2019)
– HB 144
titled “Hands Free NC” passed out of the House with a favorable 92-23 vote this morning, May 7, and now heads to the Senate for consideration. While the bill has a long way to go to become a law, AAA Carolinas commends lawmakers for addressing the need to combat distracted driving.
“We are encouraged to see this bill passing the House with such strong bi-partisan support,” said Tiffany Wright, President of AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety. “There’s still plenty of work to be done to strengthen the bill and we hope lawmakers will continue to work on this important legislation.”
House Bill 144 has been amended to prohibit distracted driving behind the wheel including hand-held electronic devices and cell phones. The House passed the bill through to the Senate on the notion that the Senate work to re-word the bill and perhaps strengthen its penalties. Currently there are no points for violations.
“We would like to thank the four bill sponsors who have worked very hard to move this bill forward: Reps. Kevin Corbin (R-Macon), John Torbett (R-Gaston), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) and Garland Pierce (D-Scotland), plus the 42 co-sponsors of the bill,” added Wright. “We urge the Senate to strongly consider this legislation which has the potential to save lives. ”
Right now 18 states and D.C. have a hands-free law and Tennessee is close to becoming the 19th state, as it awaits the governor’s signature.
A recent AAA study revealed that 83 percent of motorists rated texting while driving a very serious threat to their safety, yet nearly 60 percent admitted to engaging in the dangerous behavior themselves.
According to NCDOT, in 2018 there were 123 fatalities coded as a result of distracted driving. However, AAA Carolinas believes the numbers are higher because the behavior is difficult to prove and motorists won’t readily admit to doing it. Last year, there were also 102 rear end fatal crashes and 733 lane departure fatalities. Rear end and lane departure collisions are a common result from distracted driving.
AAA Carolinas has been dedicated to ensuring that education and safety initiatives in the Carolinas are created and implemented to reduce traffic fatalities.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2.2 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.
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