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Six months in, texting ban tough to enforce

READ MORE: Six months in, texting ban tough to enforce
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Texting while driving has been illegal in North Carolina for seven months now, but is the law effective, and can it even be enforced? The numbers show it's been a struggle so far.

So far, the law has been a learning process.

"We are trying to train our officers to recognize and pull over anyone texting and driving," said David Weinstein, director of the Governor's Highway Safety Program.

But it hasn't been easy. Patrol officers need to spot drivers in the act of texting, which is tougher than you may think.

"It's just so difficult to enforce," Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said. "You assume that someone's texting, when in fact they could just be dialing a phone number, which technically is legal."

The numbers show this frustration. In the first six months of the program, only about 300 tickets have been handed out to drivers in North Carolina. Only a dozen have been in New Hanover County. All law enforcement officers can do is enforce the law to the best of their ability, but their frustration may lead to a new law entirely.

"It's just dumb," Evangelous said. "We ought to ban the use of cell phones - period."

So far the movement to ban use of all cell phones is picking up steam in Raleigh. Earlier this year Sen. Charlie Dannelly introduced a bill that would ban just that. For now, it's up to you to put down the phone behind the wheel.

Texting while driving is believed to have played a role when two pedestrians were hit by a car in Wrightsville Beach Memorial Day weekend. The current penalty for texting while driving is a fine of $100 plus court fees.

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