WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Wilmington Police say drivers in our area need to pay more attention behind the wheel after an alarming number of recent accidents.
Many of us are guilty of it. You get stuck at a red light, and pull out your phone. And now Wilmington police say cell phone use behind the wheel is leading to more accidents.
“There’s really been an uptick in people using their cell phones while driving which is a terrible idea,” said WPD Corporal Kevin Getman.
Getman says over the span of 60 days, WPD responded to 51 accidents in a five block radius of South College Road. All of those accidents were caused by inattentive driving.
“We live in a society that’s just busy busy and has to go go go. And unfortunately, they spend a lot of time in their car doing everything but the most important thing, which is driving the vehicle,” Getman said.
Getman says with a large population of college students and retirees, more people continuing to move here, and an infrastructure that is already overwhelmed, distracted driving is adding to an existing problem.
He says because North Carolina texting while driving laws only apply to text messages and emails, it can be difficult to prove if someone is using their phone illegally.
“We need to change the laws. We need to just have 100 percent no cell phone use, which will make it easier for law enforcement. If we see somebody driving down the street and they’re holding their phone up to their ear, pull them over,” Getman said.
While it may not be illegal right now, Getman says using your phone behind the wheel is just a bad idea. He says put it in your console or glove box, and leave it there until you reach your destination.
“If a light turns red, or somebody stops last minute, and you’re paying attention to what’s on your social media, I don’t think it will end well,” said Wilmington driver Lucille Tarascio.
Getman says it is hard to change people’s habits, and so unfortunately he believes stricter laws and higher fines are the only way to stop people from making dangerous choices.