Federal officials estimate that texting behind the wheel diverts a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, meaning texting motorists going 55 mph are inattentive as they drive for what is equivalent to the length of a football field.
Rep. Jim McClendon (R-Shelby), who sponsored the state House version of the legislation, said that its finalization was a long time coming after six years of advocacy.
“Persistence has finally paid off,” he said in a statement, adding that, “our highways will be safer with the passage of this law.”
The regulation makes texting while driving a primary offense, meaning police can pull over any driver they suspect is breaking the ban to issue a citation.
The law defines prohibited hand-held devices as any that are “readily removable from a vehicle and are used to write, send, or read text or data through manual input.”
The law expressly allows for use of voice-operated devices “which allow the user to send or receive a text-based communication without the use of either hand except to activate or deactivate a feature or function.”