N.C. Proposal Prohibits Teen Cell Phone Use While Driving

North Carolina legislators have introduced S.B. 1289, "Cell Phone Use by Drivers Under 18 Prohibited," to try to curb the number of distractions facing teen drivers.

The American Society of Safety Engineers' five North Carolina chapters are urging legislators to pass the bill and the governor to sign it, hoping it's the first step in dealing with distracted drivers in general, not just teen drivers.

In a letter sent to North Carolina senators Stan Bingham, Austin Allran, Tom Apodaca and William R. Purcell, American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE) North Carolina members, numbering more than 1,100, declared their support of S.B. 1289.

"ASSE fully supports S.B. 1289, but hopes that your bill can serve as a beginning in looking for meaningful ways to deal with the entire issue of distracted drivers," Keith Robinson, CSP, CHMM, ASSE Government Affairs chair for Region VI, of Greensboro, said in the letter. "ASSE's position is that operating a vehicle while using a cell phone is one of many potentially unsafe acts drivers do every day and needs to be addressed."

A major concern of the ASSE membership is roadway safety as traffic crashes continue to be the number one cause of on-the-job-deaths in the United States. Of the 5,524-workplace fatalities recorded in the United States for 2002, 43 percent were transportation related. A contributing factor to these ongoing traffic fatalities are the distracted driver, they may not find themselves in a crash, but can be the cause of one.

"The same dangers related to cell phones also hold true for a vehicle operator who drives in an unsafe manner while eating, drinking, putting on makeup, reading a newspaper, operating any other electronic device or some other type of distracted activity where the driver's mind, eyes and hands are engaged elsewhere than the road ahead and the steering wheel," Robinson said. "All drivers should be cognizant of the fact that they could cause or be in a traffic crash due to such behaviors. An accident can happen in a second."

Robinson noted that national, state and local government agencies have statutes and regulations limiting the distracted behaviors of drivers on roadways.

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