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Rules of the road and how they affect your North Carolina car rental travels.

2012 saw some heated debate within the state government over controversial driving-related topics, especially when it came to our reliance on mobile gadgets and the distracted driving issue. On that topic, the debate rages. Unless you’re a farmer, however, the New Year heralded few changes to the state’s motor vehicle laws that concern North Carolina car rental clients and motorists in general. The rules of the road can vary drastically nationwide though, and we view it as one of our commitments to our clients to highlight certain rules and programs that will help to keep you on the right side of the law during your journey.

Move on Over

In 1994, as a South Carolina paramedic was treating victims at a roadside accident scene, he was also struck and injured by a passing car. The subsequent court case found the paramedic at fault. This ignited a push to enact a law that protected emergency responders on the highways, which resulted in South Carolina adopting one of our nation’s first Move Over laws in 1996.

Since then, most states and provinces throughout the U.S. and Canada have established Move Over laws. Following a rash of similar drive-by accidents in North Carolina, this state enacted them in January 2002, with an expansion that came into effect in October 2012. The Move Over law requires that all vehicles, North Carolina car rental drivers or otherwise, move at least one lane away from service vehicles that are parked with their blue or yellow lights flashing. This includes all emergency response vehicles as well as utility and road work crews, and even if they are parked on the shoulder. In the case of single-lane roadways, North Carolina car rental drivers must slow down and be prepared to stop when approaching these vehicles. Failure to do so can result in a mandatory $250 fine plus court fees.

Slow Down, Junior

The freedom of finally getting a license to drive is pretty heady stuff for any teenager. We all have memories of cruising with friends on warm summer weekends. The dark side of this welcome memory is that teen driving accounts for a significant percentage of traffic fatalities across the U.S. Since Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) started being introduced in the mid-90s, the rate of teen fatalities was dropping year after year until 2011 when it suddenly saw a jump of eleven percent. The increase brought a renewed focus to preventing this kind of road tragedy.

Sadly, the upward trend in North Carolina was among the highest, with seventeen 16 and 17-year-old driver deaths from 2010 to 2011, and second only to Texas in the number of fatalities. While North Carolina has had a GDL program for some time, this data prompted a legal crackdown on young driver incidents.

As of January 2012, if a young driver with a learner’s permit or a provisional license is caught speeding at 15 mph over the posted limit, they can be arrested and have their driving privileges revoked for a minimum of 30 days. Learners must also keep an official driving log of 60 hours before they can graduate to the intermediate level, and 12 hours prior to receiving a provisional license.

Talk, but don’t type

Over 3,000 people were killed in this country in car accidents caused by distracted driving. Despite study after study that shows the level of cognitive impairment behind the wheel caused by interacting with a mobile phone, the adoption of relevant laws is still a controversial topic from state to state.

For North Carolina car rental drivers, the current law is that hands-held mobile phone conversations are allowed while the car is in motion, but the car must be parked for manual phone uses such as texting, emailing and internet browsing. The exceptions to this apply to young drivers under the age of 18 and to school bus drivers, neither of which are allowed any mobile phone use while driving.

If you find yourself in Chapel Hill, NC, however, be careful. That town has taken the much-debated step in creating a municipal law that bans all use of mobile phones while driving, hand-held and hands-free included.

Enforcement: Do the Crime and Face the Rhyme

If you’re a visiting North Carolina car rental client, you may not be aware of the state’s penchant for giving rhyming titles to its road safety programs. But don’t be fooled by these fanciful names; ‘Booze It & Lose It’, ‘Click It or Ticket’ and ‘No Need 2 Speed’ have all been highly effective in keeping our state roads safe. Over the recent four-week holiday period, the Booze It & Lose It program resulted in 3,147 DWI charges and over 78,000 detected traffic violations.

A law that is close to our hearts applies specifically to North Carolina car rentals. Some time ago, the state ruled that failure to return a rental car valued at $4,000 or more would be considered a felony rather than a misdemeanor. But of course, we don’t have to worry about that with our clients! Check out our vehicle options, and book your North Carolina car rental today.

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