MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - -- Cellular phones are rapidly becoming as commonplace today as regular home phones once were. But, even though cell phones make communication much more convenient, talking on them while driving can turn deadly. An estimated 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes in the United States are caused by driver distraction, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The use of cellular telephones is prohibited unless the driver is equipped with a “hands-free” device, according to Base Order 5560.2L.
A hands-free device is an attachment available for most cell phones, which allows the driver to talk on the phone without lifting or holding the phone to the driver’s ear. This allows the driver to give their full attention to following the rules of the road.
“Individuals who are pulled over for talking on their cell phone without using a hands-free device will be sent to traffic court,” said Gunnery Sgt. Daniel P. Schismenos, the traffic chief for the Provost Marshal’s Office.
A first-time offense will result in a mandatory 15-day suspension of the violator’s driving privileges on base. A second offense will result in a 30-day suspension, and a third offense will result in a 60-day suspension.
“However, depending on the circumstances involved, the court can suspend a Marine’s driving privileges for up to six months,” said Schismenos.
Though there is currently no such law in the state of North Carolina prohibiting the use of cell phones without a hand’s free device, the Governor’s Executive Committee for Distracted Drivers is working to change that.
“Cell phone use was a contributing factor in seven percent of all crashes resulting in injuries this past year in North Carolina,” said Schismenos, who is also a member of the committee.
Distracted driving includes shaving, putting on make-up, eating or drinking, reading a road map, etc. According to Schismenos, cell phone use is number one in this category.
Ultimately, the best thing to do when you receive a phone call while your vehicle is in motion is to move off the roadway as soon as you can safely do so. Then, when the car is stopped, turn the phone back on and continue the conversation. Using this technique will help keep you and your fellow road warriors safe.