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Insurance commissioner tours area

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State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, left, chats with State Farm insurance agent John Knott on Wednesday at Knott's office in Rocky Mount.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Distracted driving is more than texting. It can be driving down the road while reading a newspaper, eating a sandwich, combing your hair in the mirror or — get this — eating a bowl of cereal.

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has seen it all. That is why he is supporting a hands-free driver bill taking the curves through the N.C. General Assembly.

Distracted driving is the leading cause of wrecks in North Carolina. Georgia passed a similar law and in the first year highway fatalities dropped by 16 percent, Causey said.

Sitting in the Country Club Road office of State Farm agent John Knott, Causey said he tours the state as often as possible to get to know the problems in different areas.

“Rural counties have different problems than the big city counties,” Causey said.

Traveling around and getting to know people in every corner of the state — Causey has been to all 100 North Carolina counties — helps him know what really is going on.

Being familiar with folks in Rocky Mount helped him understand why it is so important the DMV relocates here. The state’s offices should not be so centralized, Causey said, noting that his department has seven regional offices.

Causey and Knott took a moment to chat about college sports before steering the conversation back to distracted driving, which Causey said is causing automobile insurance rates to skyrocket.

“If you drive down the road with your cellphone in your hand, you’re distracted,” Causey said.

Drivers who want their overall insurance rate to go down should contact their legislator and let them know how they feel about the hands-free bill, Causey said.

Causey and Knott also talked about a bill to lengthen the period serious points remain on a driver’s record. The bill would see points for drunken driving and passing stopped school buses stay on a driver’s record for eight years instead of three.

“If this bill doesn’t pass, your car insurance will go up,” Causey said.

Causey made several stops on Wednesday in the Twin Counties, chatting with firefighters and local insurance agents. Causey, who also is the state’s chief fire marshal, presented a $29,975 grant check to the Sharpsburg Fire Department.

Causey, the first Republican insurance commissioner in state history, also spoke to the Nash-Rocky Mount Rotary Club.