Troopers: Distracted driving is a growing problem in the East

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so 9 On Your Side is looking into which distractions can earn drivers a ticket.

It’s common knowledge that in North Carolina, texting while driving is illegal, but what about while the car is stopped? What other distractions are considered violations? WNCT went to Highway Troopers to find out.

If a driver is stopped at a light or a stop sign, texting is allowed, just not while the vehicle is moving.

There are plenty of other distractions, like passengers, eating, or even putting on makeup. As long as the driver is moving straight and safely down the road, they can’t be charged.

Trooper Doug Coley said it’s about what happens on the road during the distraction.

“Someone may be reaching for something in their car, going left of center, striking another vehicle, running off the roads. So there are other charges that occur out of distracted driving other than just texting and driving. That’s where you have the careless and reckless driving,” Trooper Coley said.

Troopers in the East said they’re seeing more drivers veer out of their lanes or get into single car accidents on straight roads, thanks to distracted driving.

Trooper Coley said most of the education efforts focus on young drivers, but they’re not the most frequent offenders.

“It’s not just limited to teenagers. We see a lot of people that are older people, now have smart phones that they’re using to communicate with,” Trooper Coley said.

Because of this, older drivers are now being warned about the dangers of distracted driving in safety courses with organizations like AARP.

According to NC DOT, nearly 50,000 crashes in the state were attributed to distracted driving in 2013.

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