House Bill 144, titled “Hands-Free NC”, has passed out of the North Carolina House committee with a 92-23 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Although a long way off becoming law, AAA Carolinas has commended lawmakers for addressing the need to combat distracted driving.

“We are encouraged to see this bill passing the House with such strong bi-partisan support,” said Tiffany Wright, President of AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety. “There’s still plenty of work to be done to strengthen the bill and we hope lawmakers will continue to work on this important legislation.”

House Bill 144 has been amended to prohibit distracted driving behind the wheel including hand-held electronic devices and cell phones. The House passed the bill through to the Senate on the notion that the Senate work to re-word the bill and perhaps strengthen its penalties. Currently there are no points for violations.

“We would like to thank the four bill sponsors who have worked very hard to move this bill forward: Reps. Kevin Corbin (R-Macon), John Torbett (R-Gaston), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) and Garland Pierce (D-Scotland), plus the 42 co-sponsors of the bill,” added Wright. “We urge the Senate to strongly consider this legislation which has the potential to save lives. ”

Currently 18 states and Washington D.C. have a hands-free law and Tennessee is close to becoming the 19th state, as it awaits the governor’s signature.