• NC lawmakers and troopers push drivers to go hands free

    By: Natalie Pasquarella


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Channel 9 investigated the state's ban on texting and driving months ago and showed it was nearly impossible to enforce.

    Now, local lawmakers, state troopers and Mecklenburg County's assistant district attorney are taking the law to the next level to keep drivers' hands back on the steering wheel and off their phones.

    State troopers played a video from a 9 Investigation on texting while driving to a group of lawmakers and the assistant attorney. They came together to start a roundtable discussion on how to strengthen North Carolina's texting-while-driving ban.

    State Sen. Jeff Tarte arranged Thursday's meeting and the participants said they support North Carolina going hands-free, which means not having a phone in hand while driving.

    "I think the easiest thing is hands-free, nothing, no phone in your hand at all, said Rep. Beverly Earle.

    Mecklenburg County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Lillie said for his office to prosecute, the law must be clear.

    "What we want is a simple statute that can be easily enforced by the troopers who are out there on the roads and easily enforced in the coutroom," Lillie said.

    Lawmakers will now spend the next few weeks researching laws in other hands-free states.

    "We've got a timeline now. We know we want to move in the next three or four weeks," Tarte said. "The first step is doing the research, kind of lessons learned from other states that have got hands-free statutes on the books.”

    Lawmakers said they want to try to get the legislation prepared in time for the 2014 short session in May.

    If it isn't ready then, it would get pushed back to January of 2015.

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