As the General Assembly moves closer toward passing a ban on texting-while-driving, there's a new bill in the hopper that would crack down on another type of driver distraction: TV and DVD viewing and computer use in the front seat -- by riders as well as by drivers.
Senate Bill 368, "Various Changes in Motor Vehicle Law," is a grab-bag of fine-print adjustments to safety regulations and weight limits, and the leeway allowed garbage and recycling truck riders to forgo buckling their seat belts.
And then there's this section (
strikethroughs represent existing language in the law that would be deleted, while underlines are proposed new language):
SECTION 14. G.S. 20‑136.1 reads as rewritten:
television viewers.television, computer, or video disc players, monitors, and screens.
No person shall drive any motor vehicle upon a public street or highway or public vehicular area,
equipped with any television viewer, screen, or other means of visually receiving a television broadcastwhile operating, using, or viewing any television, computer, or video disc player which is located in the motor vehicle at any point forward of the back of the driver's seat, or which is visible to the driver while operating the motor vehicle. This section does not apply to the use of global positioning systems, turn‑by‑turn navigation displays, or similar navigation devices. The provisions of this section shall not apply to law enforcement or emergency personnel while in the performance of their official duties."
It's possible that this proposal would spark revolt from families where the front-seat-shotgun rider wants to be able to watch a movie, too. I can imagine even more protest from passengers who enjoy the ride to tap on their laptops while traveling.
The sponsor is Sen. Clark Jenkins of Edgecombe County, who frequently guides transportation bills through the legislature. The bill has not been discussed in a committee or on the floor, yet.