“Hands-Free” legislation highlighted during Distracted Driving press event Tuesday, April 2

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to AAA Carolinas, in 2018, 123 people died in North Carolina as a result of distracted driving.

To bring awareness to the dangers of distracted driving, N.C. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has placed a demolished vehicle in which a teen was killed while texting in the front of the Albemarle Insurance Building at 325 N. Salisbury St. in Raleigh.

It will be at that location where Commissioner Causey, N.C. Representative Kevin Corbin, R-Macon, along with the families of victims killed in distracted driving accidents will hold a press event Tuesday, April 2 at 11 a.m. to highlight their support for N.C. HB 144 or The Hands-Free North Carolina Act. This legislation is designed to curb distracted driving injuries and fatalities and is scheduled to be discussed at the N.C. House Judiciary Committee the next day, Wednesday, April 3.

Sixteen states now have hands-free laws. Last year, Georgia became the latest state to adopt hands-free legislation. Since the law took effect July 1, 2018, there has been a 15 percent reduction in commercial motor vehicle fatalities, according to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.

The bill, if approved, prohibits the hand-held use of a cellphone or other wireless communication devices but allows the driver to make hands-free calls. Drivers who are at least 18 years old would be able to use their cellphones if the phone is mounted in the vehicle and the call can be initiated or terminated by touching a single button, such as speed dialing.

Provisions are made for drivers who need to make emergency calls or for emergency officers and first responders.

“Distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of automobile accidents, along with speeding and driving while intoxicated. Unless we take corrective action now, we’ll see accidents increase that will take our loved ones and drive automobile insurance rates higher and higher, “said Commissioner Causey.

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Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.