HSRC Senior Researcher Arthur Goodwin spoke before the North Carolina Senate and House Judiciary Committees regarding Senate Bill 1289, which would make it illegal for a person under the age of 18 to talk on a cell phone while driving. The bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Mike Easley on August 2, 2006.
“The cell phone restriction is designed to reduce distractions during a very high risk period when teens are first learning how to drive” according to Arthur Goodwin. “The cell phone bill will be a new component of North Carolina’s GDL system, and will further help to protect young drivers.”
Under the new law, teen drivers caught using a cell phone face a $25.00 fine and a six-month extension of their graduated license restrictions. The new law does not assess any additional insurance points for an infraction and also includes exceptions for calling emergency response personnel or parents. Dr. Rob Foss, Senior Research Scientist with HSRC, played an instrumental role in crafting the legislation.
Hendersonville community members, ranging in age from eight to 88, walked through the city in support of community-based senior pedestrian program Walk Wise, Drive Smart on Saturday the 13th of May.
The Walk Wise, Drive Smart program, spearheaded by HSRC as part of the Henderson County Livable Senior Friendly Communities Initiative, launched their official kick-off at Jackson Park in Hendersonville with help from the Henderson County Council on Aging, the AARP and local volunteers who serve on the program’s community advisory group.
Around fifty pedestrians and volunteers gathered to embark on a series of walks, the longest of which wrapped through downtown Hendersonville. Wearing bright yellow t-shirts with the Walk Wise, Drive Smart apple logo, the pedestrians were hard to miss during their jaunt through the park and beyond. In fact, increased visibility is one of the messages of the program, which strives to encourage safe walking and driving habits.
Hendersonville City Manager Chris Carter spoke at the event about the multiple bond referendums that the city has already passed, and is planning for the future, to improve the sidewalks and safety of Hendersonville streets.
Officers from the North Carolina Highway Patrol and Hendersonville Police were also present; they have pledged to more actively enforce dangerous driving conditions that could be harmful for pedestrians, such as illegal right turns on red and failure to yield to pedestrians.
“We were very pleased with the turnout for the kick-off event and the enthusiasm Hendersonville residents have for supporting this program,” said Walk Wise, Drive Smart Director Bill Hunter. “We look forward to the continued participation of the city in making Hendersonville a more inviting walking environment for pedestrians of all ages.”
The program plans to continue its efforts throughout the year by educating and encouraging pedestrians and motorists to think about the benefits of walking for the environment and to practice safe habits when walking and driving. Walk Wise, Drive Smart also aims to complete one safe walking route in each of 10 Hendersonville neighborhoods. Other sidewalks will be repaired and upgraded to make walking safer and more convenient.
The next activity planned for the Walk Wise, Drive Smart program is Active Aging Week, taking place in Hendersonville from September 25th through October 1st, 2006. For more information visit www.walk-wise.org or call Bill Hunter at 919-962-8716.
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) State Coordinators gathered in Washington, D.C., from July 31 – August 2 for their program’s first national meeting. Forty-one States and the District of Columbia were represented at the meeting hosted by the National Center for Safe Routes to School (NCSRTS) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The National Center for Safe Routes to School is led by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center in partnership with AASHTO, GHSA, ITE, America Walks and Toole Design Group.
Both permanent and interim SRTS Coordinators gathered to meet one another and share information about programs in their states. They discussed program plans, application procedures and evaluation issues, and heard about current programs and plans for the NCSRTS. The Coordinators also heard from federal agencies and national advocacy and nonprofit organizations that are active in SRTS initiatives around the country including AASHTO, America Walks, FHWA, Governors Highway Safety Association, the League of American Bicyclists, the National Center for Bicycling and Walking, NHTSA and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. A highlight of the meeting was a stirring keynote address presented by Congressman James L. Oberstar of Minnesota.
“The State SRTS Coordinators are an energized group of professionals who are dedicated to the success of the national SRTS program and looking forward to working together to promote safe routes to school,” said Lauren Marchetti, NCSRTS Director.
For more information, please visit the NCSRTS Web site at www.saferoutesinfo.org.
The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center
730 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Suite 300 | Campus Box 3430 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3430
Phone: 919.962.2203 | Fax: 919.962.8710