Hand-held phone ban while driving gets committee okay

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Distracted driving dangers are getting revisited in North Carolina, where lawmakers are advancing a prohibition on hand-held cellphone use in the name of reducing fatalities and potentially reining in insurance rates.

A House committee overwhelmingly backed legislation on Tuesday to bar drivers from holding their wireless devices to take calls, as well as using them to watch videos or text. Violators would face fines, with knocks on insurance records for repeat offenses.

The state already banned texting or emails while driving for a decade. But lawmakers say it's hard for authorities to enforce the rule.

Sixteen states now prohibit hand-held cellphone use, and supporters say most of them saw decreases in motor vehicle crashes soon after.

Some committee members said Tuesday the proposal doesn't address the heart of distracted driving.

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