North Carolina lawmakers hope to crack down on texting and driving

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Lawmakers are hoping to crack down on texting while driving (WTVD)

State officials have seen an increase in distracted driving fatalities and lawmakers are looking to crack down on drivers who text while behind the wheel.

Legislation has been drafted to study ways to improve North Carolina's current law. It is illegal to text behind the wheel and drivers could be fined $100 for doing so.

Representative Stephen Ross (R-Alamance County), who is a primary sponsor of House Bill 558, says it's hard for officers to enforce the law that's on the books.

"The reason it's not enforceable is because, and most of the troopers will tell you, when they encounter a person texting that person has to say is 'I'm dialing a phone number' and they have no means of being able to check the phone," he said.

Ross said people have been reaching out to him demanding action.

"It's become an issue that really is beginning to affect public safety on the highway," Ross explained. "I had thought maybe it would get better with time, but it's getting worse."

Garner mom Erika Stucker says she has been scared for herself and her children while driving on Interstate 40.

"We've seen a car in front of us swerve," said Stucker. "I point it out to the kids because I know eventually they're going to be driving and they're going to want to be texting their friends."

She feels there should be a complete overhaul of the law and it should parallel other states, like California or New York, where there's a ban on holding a cell phone while driving.

"We're getting to that point where we need to do some type of regulation," she said.

Here are some sobering statistics about distracted driving:

-In 2015, 159 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in North Carolina involving distracted drivers, which is a 10.4 percent increase in the number of distracted driving fatalities recorded in 2014.

-In 2015, approximately 27,230 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes in North Carolina involving distracted drivers, which is an increase from the 25,521 people who were injured in 2014.

-In 2016, 177 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in North Carolina involving distracted drivers, which is a 9.9 percent increase in the number of distracted driving fatalities recorded in 2015.

-In 2016, approximately 26,982 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes in North Carolina involving distracted drivers, which is a decrease from the 27,296 people who were injured in 2015.

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