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Public shows support for proposed Chapel Hill cellphone ban

Posted February 20, 2012
Updated February 21, 2012

— A handful of people turned out Monday in Chapel Hill to show support for a ban on all cellphone use behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

Karen Turner, of Asheville, traveled to Chapel Hill to share a story she says proves the need for a complete ban on cellphones in the driver's seat.

In August 2010, Turner said, her younger brother Joel was in a wreck caused by a driver using a cellphone.

"Joel was pronounced dead on the scene," she said. "Pass the ban, so that no other family has to suffer."

The town council is set to vote on the proposal, which would even ban hands-free devices, on March 12.

If the proposal passes, it would be the first of its kind in North Carolina. State law prohibits drivers age 18 and under from using cellphones and also makes texting while driving illegal when a car is in motion.

Some council members expressed concern about whether such a ban is legal.

An assistant attorney general sent a letter to the council saying it doesn't have the authority to pass a town ban on cellphones.

"We (would be passing) a law that, we've been told by the Attorney General, we don't have the authority to enact," said Councilman Matt Czajkowski.

A town attorney said the attorney general's decision was premature. He acknowledged that the ban could be challenged in court, but said the attorney general's office didn't have all the details of the proposal before they said it was unlawful.

Cellphone ban supporters address Chapel Hill council Cellphone ban supporters address Chapel Hill council

Councilman Gene Pease said he wasn't sure hands-free devices should be included and had questions about how it would be enforced.

Councilman Jim Ward said passing the ban was "the right thing to do."

Ten states and the District of Columbia have bans on using hand-held cellphones while driving. Chapel Hill's proposal makes cellphone use behind the wheel a secondary offense, meaning an officer must first stop a vehicle for another reason before issuing a citation for violating the ban.


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  • Bewitched Feb 22, 2012

    99% of the time someone almost comes into my lane, almost sideswiping me, etc, when I look over at the driver he/she is on the phone, yammering away, oblivious.

  • piene2 Feb 21, 2012

    “The issue is driving distracted, not driving while holding a cell phone. If the issue was the actual act of physically holding the cell phone, then we should outlaw driving with Big Gulps, giant coffee drink, and candy bars too since they all have to be held in your hand!”

    No it’s not holding a drink or such. It’s the mental distraction of trying to process information from the phone while trying to drive.

  • Hammerhead Feb 21, 2012

    Until it's against the law I don't care about the rest of you...........nice.

  • Atheist Feb 21, 2012

    Ticket those who drive with their dogs all over the steering wheel. Putting themselves, their dog, and other people in danger.

  • fishon Feb 21, 2012

    Really, how long does it take you drive home? Anything that can't wait a few minutes, or would you rather put yourself and others in harms way to satify your own selfishness?

    40 minutes and no I can't wait a few minutes. Remember I am trying to stay awake! And until it's against the law I don't really care about the rest of you. I see plenty of bad drivers every day going both directions and I am better than most even with a phone in my hand. And if traffic gets heavy I shut off the phone.

  • Hammerhead Feb 21, 2012

    Buck, they pose no danger to anyone in those venues.

  • Buck Farack Feb 21, 2012

    I'll vote to ban cell phones in cars as soon as they ban car radios, MP3 and iPod hookups, GPS screens and in-car DVD screens.

    Oh, and ban all passengers too, especially those whiny back-seat brats...the driver is likely to talk to one of them.

  • Buck Farack Feb 21, 2012

    I'll vote to ban cell phones in cars as soon as they are banned in movies, theaters, and churches.

  • Hammerhead Feb 21, 2012

    tamiya, I know you're being sarcastic, but I wish people would pay attention to where they're walking instead of staring at their hand held devices. Sometimes I feel like reverting back to linebacker mode when they practically walk right into me.

  • readme Feb 21, 2012

    This might be a bit much. Texting bans are a no-brainer to me. But if you go after cell phone use for talking, what's next? Well, the answer is just about anything could be next.