The Truth About Distracted Driving
There are countless television, radio and print ads that display chilling tales of people who are killed as a result of someone who was texting while driving. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,300 people are killed every year as a result of distracted driving. Aside from the undeniable hazard posed by someone whose eyes are not on the road, there are several other byproducts of engaging in distracted behavior.
What Constitutes Distracted Driving?
There are several behaviors that may be considered distracted driving depending on where a driver is. According to Distraction.gov, the official U.S. government site on the practice, an officer may issue a citation for the following:
- Eating and drinking
- Talking on the phone
According to several members of North Carolina law enforcement, however, proving that someone was using a phone or otherwise occupied can be difficult. One officer noted that in many cases, law enforcement will have to actually see someone holding a phone for an extended period of time. For example, quickly looking up someone’s contact information may not be illegal, but holding up a phone for minutes at a time may constitute being pulled over.
In 2009, North Carolina outlawed both checking email and texting while driving. An individual who is cited for doing either may be fined $100 and have to incur any costs associated with a court proceeding. The repercussions do not stop there, however. For example, in some states, distracted driving is considered reckless driving, a charge that can increase an insurance premium by as much as 20 percent.
Additionally, texting while driving can result in additional tickets, such as speeding or running red lights, which also come with their own fines and take a toll on an insurance rate. Some professions, particularly transportation-based jobs such as a bus driver, will not tolerate any traffic citation. That can mean an individual loses his or her income while at the same time facing these charges.
By the Numbers
As technology evolves, more and more people are communicating through mobile devices. The results include being connected to people across the globe, but it has also contributed to an increase in distracted driving citations across the country. Consider that in North Carolina:
- The number of tickets jumped to 2,609 in 2013 from 1,925 in 2012.
- In the same time period, 50 percent more school bus drivers acquired a ticket.
- More than 1,000 commercial vehicle drivers incurred citations
At Nosal & Jeter, LLP, we understand that even a small ticket can have major consequences. Even if distracted driving does not result in a death or serious injury, a citation can mean hefty fines and a permanent mark on your record. Our team is adept at disputing tickets in the Carolinas and can help you navigate the court system.
Source: Winston-Salem Journal, “Texting while driving in N.C. illegal, and sometimes deadly,” Sarah Newell Williamson, May 3, 2014