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How many tickets have been issued for texting while driving?

Ken Little

Wilmington city police have ticketed five drivers to date for texting while driving, police department spokeswoman Lucy Crockett says.

New Hanover County sheriff’s deputies have issued about a dozen tickets to texting drivers, Cpl. Jerry Brewer adds.

The N.C. Highway Patrol issued 296 citations for texting while driving statewide between Dec. 1, 2009, when the law went into effect, and June 3, Sgt. Jeff Gordon says.

Of those 296 citations, 19 were issued in New Hanover County, among the highest totals among the state’s 100 counties. Three each were handed out in Brunswick and Pender counties, Gordon says.

“What the trooper or any law enforcement officer has to determine is if the person is texting or in the process of accessing a phone number. It is challenging, but it is a good law,” he says.

“It’s a difficult law to enforce because it’s hard to tell if someone is doing it,” adds Brewer. “It’s hard to differentiate someone who’s texting with someone who is dialing a telephone number.”

Deputies sitting in patrol cars are at eye level with other cars or lower than drivers in SUVs and trucks, so it’s difficult to see what many drivers are doing inside their vehicles, Brewer says. But that doesn’t stop members of the SAFE (Sheriff’s Alcohol Field Enforcement) Unit from remaining on the lookout for texting drivers, he says.

Drivers cited for texting while driving in North Carolina face a fine of $100, plus court fees.

“Everyone should know by now that texting while driving is unsafe. In fact, cell phone use of any kind distracts motorists from devoting full time and attention to driving,” Crockett says.

Adds Crockett: “As with all traffic violations, voluntary compliance is really important. Police officers can’t be everywhere all the time, and they can’t cite everyone who drives badly.”

Teenage drivers in North Carolina under age 18 have been prohibited from using any mobile communication device since Dec. 1, 2007.

“As for texting, we recommend that drivers take the pledge that Oprah Winfrey is promoting. Declare your car a ‘No Phone Zone,’” Crockett says.

User-contributed question by:
Jeff Herrett

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