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Six months in, texting ban tough to enforce

READ MORE: Six months in, texting ban tough to enforce

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.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Thoughts on the Texting Ban

I don't understand why people are too stupid to text and drive or talk and drive at the same time. Memorize your key pad and you don't have to take your eyes off the road to text. People too dumb to memorize their keypads don't have any business driving anwyays. I see people all the time who drift from lane to lane, or go 20 miles under the speed limit because they are pre-occupied with a phone, or eating, or with others in the car. What it comes down to is that people need to know their own limits. If you know you drive like an idiot when you're distracted, then take measures to limit distractions. If you can multi-task and not lose your head when having to deal with two situations at the same time, you shouldn't be punished by "the law" designed for morons. I agree that we all need LESS government in our lives, although it's very sad that so many people can only function when the government is telling them how to live. The government fosters this kindergarten mentality that punishes a whole group for the stupid actions of a few, and that just isn't right.

Well Chief...

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

>Well Chief...what would your officers do if they couldn't talk and drive?

I believe the Chief has a GREAT idea!

Police officers are taught how to multitask while driving, it's part of their job. Even in the old days before cell phones, they had to work the sirens, the lights and operate the radio.

As far as the punk-a$$ed kids chatting and the rest that can't drive on a good day, they need to focus on driving, NOT the cell phone! There is rarely any reason anyone has to talk on their phone while's just flat-out dangerous!

What do you think instituted the "GET OFF YOUR PHONE AND DRIVE!" slogan came from?

We are all soooo important aren't we?


I hate to say it...but I said it back then and I'll say it again..ANOTHER DO NOTHING LAW on the books...

"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."

Ummm..YEAH...that's the first thing that was brought up about the law...

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

First, I NEED LESS government in my business...not more...not more laws for me to follow or intrude into my life....SECOND..IF that is your statement and you TRULY believe needs to be NO RADIO, NO PAPERS, BOOKS, PENS, etc in the front seat, NO CIGARETTE LIGHTERS...NO SMOKING...and ONE occupant per car...cellphones are no more distracting than those things listed...get in touch with reality...I'm sure he's been knocking on your liberal door for YEARS...just answer it and all will make sense!


Your grasp on this subject matter and life in general is less than desired. You're the reason laws like this become necessary.


Honestly it sounds like you need a little less government in your life, and we need a lot less of you on the road.

If you're seriously reading a book while driving you have issues not just with safety but stupidity as well. The jokes about people shaving and brushing their teeth while driving, I guess we all have a real life example now. Sadly the only joke I see is YOU.

If you don't think talking on a cell phone is distracting you're straight up ignorant. Unless its hands free, (in which case there is little to no problem and it is LEGAL) you have one hand on the wheel for an inordinate amount of time and you're creating unnatural blind spots. There have been numerous studies that show the reaction time to people on non-hands free phones is on par with people above the legal drinking limit. Sadly, YOU are the reason we do need laws like this and YOU are the reason government has to get in your life.

Someone has to protect us liberals from all the stupid people out there, regardless of political allegiances.


text & drive legislation

I think legislation is critical for raising public awareness but we can’t solely legislate our way out of this issue. I just read that 72% of teens text daily - many text more than 3000 times a month. This issue is in its infancy and its not going away. I decided to do something about it after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver . Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool that is a simple app for smartphones - low cost, no recurring fees. We can empower the individual and change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

Erik Wood, owner

Texting While Driving

I think that the texting while driving law should be strictly enforced. And it is good to show examples of what would happen if you were texting while driving and got into a wreck, but I think that you should show female and male drivers. Females are surely not the only people who text while driving and males could get into the same kind of accident as a female.

thanks for your time,


I was behind an ambulance the other day near NHRM, it didnt have lights on or appear to be going anywhere on a call. It was going under the speed limit and all over its lane almost running off into the grass once. At the light I pulled up beside it and the girl was texting like crazy. Light turned green so I stayed beside her for a while and she was still at it. Unbelievable that she was driving a vehicle that goes to crash sites and sees what texting does to people.


I saw an ambulance go through the intersection at Oleander and College with lights and siren on and the driver was drinking a soda while traveling in an emergency mode. The cup and straw was up to his mouth. Ambulance drivers are just like the cops. Because they have a little authority they think nothing about practicing safety when traveling in emergency modes. They get injured due to their negligence, so be it.

oh shucks

do they have numbers on them now-a days ?

Too bad...

you didn't get the plate number or vehicle number and called NHRMC to report it.

thought about it

Told my husband I should call the hospital and report her but then we figured they wouldn't care. She would deny it so you know how that would have gone.

You all think your better drivers than you really are.

Your observations of someone else driving are questionable at best. A driving retest should be done for everyone once a year. Bet that get's rid of half the traffic around here. But the money lost keeps you all on the road. Wreck me later. Peace out.