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North Carolina bill to limit using hand-held phone and driving

A distracted driver played a part in 54,279 car accidents in North Carolina in 2016, in which 177 people were killed and 26,999 injured. The Brian Garlock Act, named after a distracted driving car accident victim, was introduced in the state legislature to prevent these crashes.

In June 2008, 17-year-old Brian Garlock was killed while using a hand-held phone and driving. The bill would increase current state laws. It would allow driving with a mobile device if it is in hands-free mode. Using hand-held devices while driving in an emergency would be protected. Similar legislation named after this victim was introduced two years ago but stalled. AAA Carolinas supports this legislative effort.

Distracted driving, such as cell phone use, can be as risky and even exceed the dangers of drunk driving according to recent research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that up to eight people are killed daily in this country from accidents involving distracted driving. Over 50 percent of car accidents involve a driver using a cell phone while 25 percent involve texting and driving.

North Carolina would be the first state in the southeast to implement a hands-free law, if the measure is passed. Under existing laws, almost 3,000 drivers in the state were cited for texting and driving in 2016. This bill is like hands-free laws passed in 14 other states.

There are many measures that can prevent distracted driving even without these laws. Phones contain apps that can stop texting during driving. Or, more simply, drivers can turn off their personal electronic devices.

Victims of these accidents and their families may have the right to pursue compensation for medical expenses and other personal injury losses. An attorney can help build a case and represent victims in court and settlements.

Source: Port City Daily, "Proposed North Carolina law aims to curb distracted driving, hand-held phone use behind the wheel," Joe Catenacci, April 4, 2017

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