Brian Garlock Act Would Save Lives and Make Roads Safer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 31, 2017) – AAA Carolinas is urging North Carolina lawmakers to pass proposed legislation that would make it illegal to use hand-held communication devices, such as cell phones, behind the wheel while driving.
Last week, Senator Jeff Tarte (R-41) filed SB393, the Brian Garlock Act, in response to mounting traffic fatalities caused by distracted driving. Senators Michael Lee (R-9) and Deanna Ballard (R-45) are also sponsors of the bill.
Brian Garlock was a 17-year-old Charlotte native who lost his life while using a hand-held cell phone and driving in June of 2008. The bill, named in his honor, was introduced to the North Carolina General Assembly two years ago, but never gained momentum.
The proposed legislation was refiled in anticipation of Distracted Driver Awareness Month, which kicks off in April. Distracted Driving Awareness Month aims to educate and draw attention to the dangers of distracted driving, which has become an epidemic across the United States.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has recently conducted research that shows distracted driving, especially cell phone use, can be just as dangerous, or even worse than drunk driving.
“If participating in dangerous behaviors, such as texting or using a hand-held device while driving is equivalent to drunk driving, why are these acts still legal behind the wheel?” said AAA Carolinas President and CEO Dave Parsons. “Passing the Brian Garlock Act is a no-brainer. How many more North Carolinians will die before lawmakers will act?”
In 2016, 54,279 crashes in North Carolina were the result of distracted driving. These crashes lead to 26,999 injuries and 177 fatalities. 2,925 people in North Carolina were cited for texting while driving in 2016.
Several states have already passed similar hands-free legislation. The Brian Garlock Act would expand on current North Carolina distracted driving laws already in place. The proposed legislation states that a person driving can only use a mobile device in hands-free mode. There are provisions in the bill that would protect drivers using hand-held devices in case of emergencies.
For more on Brian Garlock’ s story, visit www.dyingchangeseverything.org
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.