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Chapel Hill tiptoes toward cellphone ban for drivers

Posted September 12, 2011
Updated February 20, 2012

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— The town of Chapel Hill is moving slowly toward a ban on cell phones while driving, but town leaders found they had more questions than answers at a council meeting Monday night.

The town council voted 6-2 to move forward with considering a ban, but said they will need to consult with Attorney General Roy Cooper about whether they have the legal authority to enact one.

Councilwoman Penny Rich said prohibiting cell phones behind the wheel is a matter of public safety.

"It is a small town with a lot of people on cell phones in cars," she said. "(It's a) a big, big concern."

Chapel Hill resident Yael Filossof agreed. 

Chapel Hill considers cell phone ban for drivers Chapel Hill considers cell phone ban for drivers

"Any cell phone use while driving is a threat to public health," he said.

But others argued that the town might be overstepping its bounds.

"I think this is a state issue," said Gene Pease.

Councilman Matt Czajkowski said the issue is likely to "get a challenge," and he would like to see more investigation into whether the town has the authority to enact a ban and how they will pay to enforce it.


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  • frosty Sep 14, 2011

    If they did not want you to talk while driving they would not have put more than one seat in the car.

  • jeff27577 Sep 13, 2011

    another reason why i stay out of that tree hugging town

  • jmurach Sep 13, 2011

    There are many towns around the US that ban cell phone use, I give a thumbs up to Chapel Hill for doing it I just wish more towns would ban cell phone use. It isn't that important to talk while driving.

  • hearmeout Sep 13, 2011

    ...and to add to Bartmeister's list....try eating and driving! Don't think that isn't a problem. I now live in a state that bans cell phones and texting...I see people on them constantly. They are going to do it anyway. Texting and receiving emails and social media notifications are a major distraction. I have had a couple of near misses myself. People are smart enough to operate these complicated devices but they just aren't smart enough to know when not to use them I guess!!

  • itsnews2me Sep 13, 2011

    Chapel Hill has problems with people speeding downtown on Frankin Street and runnnig red lights all throughout the town, for which laws prohibiting the activity and the authority to enforce them have long existed. If enacted this will be just another law on the books with Chapel Hill drivers doing as they please anyway.

  • Bartmeister Sep 13, 2011

    I drive WELL OVER 40K miles a year covering multiple offices located in NC. I see a lot of stupid things while going down the road, LEAST of which is cell phone conversation. Women putting on makeup, guys reading magazines or newspapers, driving 10 mph under the speed limit in the far left lane, passing on the shoulder's of the road. You name it, I've probably seen it. One lady in a mini van had completely left her seat reaching back to a child in a car seat for something and never slowed down. Using a cell phone is not that bad at all, texting is a different animal all together.

  • Scubagirl Sep 13, 2011

    I believe the ban will be on HAND HELD devices, not hands free. At least w/ that the driver will have two hands to use to drive.
    What's funny to me every time I see it is folks who try to park while talking on the phone-cracks me up as it takes them more than twice as long especially when they are trying to back into the space.

  • jlr31933 Sep 13, 2011

    It's about time!

  • ICTrue Sep 13, 2011

    Note to the town council for the People's Republic of Chapel Hill. There are already plenty of traffic laws, enforce those.
    You can't fix everyting with more laws and regulations.

  • ambidextrous cat Sep 13, 2011

    It's common sense-don't talk on the phone and drive. I don't think that I deserve to get my car totaled or die due to someone else's stupidity. The distraction caused by cellphone talking is often similar to mild intoxication!