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Chapel Hill revisits idea of cellphone ban for drivers

Posted June 14, 2011
Updated June 15, 2011

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— Months after shelving discussion of a local ban on using cellphones while driving, Chapel Hill officials have revived the idea for a possible Town Council vote this fall.

Chapel Hill looked last year at prohibiting drivers from using of cellphones but halted discussions to see if the General Assembly would enact a statewide ban. Because that legislation died, town officials have asked staff to begin studying it again.

"The concern is one where it's reasonable at least to have a conversation about how we should handle it," Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said Tuesday.

North Carolina law prevents drivers age 18 and under from using cell phones. Eight states and the District of Columbia have complete bans.

Kleinschmidt said he's undecided on a ban but said issues of enforcement on state roads, including Franklin Street, and whether hands-free devices would be allowed need to be examined.

"Is somebody using a hands-free device and are they distracted, or are they just singing along to Lady Gaga?" he said.

The Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina said using a cellphone while driving increases the risk of a crash by four times. Also, using a hands-free device doesn't lower a driver's risk, according to the research center.

Should cell phones be banned for drivers? Chapel Hill revisits idea of cellphone ban for drivers

"The other day, I almost got hit from somebody talking on the cellphone," said Chapel Hill resident Amanda Abbott, adding that she would support a local ban.

"I think it's good. So many accidents are caused from people talking on their cellphones. You don't pay attention, really," Abbott said.

Resident Omar Morales admitted he's guilty of talking on the phone too much while behind the wheel.

"It does distract. I like to get on the phone and talk," Morales said, adding that he's trying to break the habit.

16 Comments

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  • dmccall Jun 15, 2011

    "Obligatory response to the self-described "northerner" risner0309 who is displeased with NC drivers: go back North, you won't be missed."

    +1 (because drivers in the North are so good and they don't have any traffic problems, right?)

  • Capt Mercury Jun 15, 2011

    If we can ban drinking a beer while driving, we can certainly ban talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving. Statistics have shown over and over that hand-held cell phones are a bigger danger. Some young girl with a phone in her hand ran me out of my lane this morning!!!

    Either ban phones while driving or make the "phoned" driver the culprit in accidents they are involved in. Make them pay the damages, not their insurance company. Right now we are all paying higher insurance rates because of the phoning numb-skulls who care more about talking than driving.

  • chivegas Jun 14, 2011

    I hope they outlaw screaming kids in the backseat, because that's an even bigger distraction.

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Jun 14, 2011

    Why don't we ban listening to the radio and talking to the person in the passager seat. Sheesh, liberals can't live without government telling them how to think and act.

  • sk8terlife91 Jun 14, 2011

    take away freedom yeh right, sometimes you get important calls while driving that you cant miss, just dont have your ear glued to the phone everytime you get in a car...

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Jun 14, 2011

    Just more busy-bodied liberals that want to control other people's lives. What's next? I can't drink my coffee on the way to work? I can't eat a hamburger as I drive.

  • fayncmike Jun 14, 2011

    "The problem in NC is that 50% of the drivers go too slow, obstructing the normal flow of traffic and causing people to constantly slam on their brakes. As a northerner, I am horrified by the poor driving in NC. "

    As a fellow Northerner I fully agree with what you've written though it only scratches the surface concerning just what rotten drivers the locals are. Before cell phones became so popular the local roads were clogged with pathetic excuses for drivers making every traffic mistake imaginable. Now add cell phones to the mix and the roads simply are nearly imposable to drive safely on. I've ridden motorcycles for more then fifty years. I've ridden in New York City, Boston and, among other places Mexico City. No where else have I ever had the level of fear while on my bike as I had here. I sold my motorcycle and now only ride while at my cottage in NJ. I have no desire to be killed by some halfwit driver that is clueless about basic driving.

  • Rebelyell55 Jun 14, 2011

    Do it. Pass it. Would like to see it at the state level. I know there are some people who I've been with that could actual drive, talk while on a phone. But there are a lot more that can't . They slow down, most time below posted speed limit. They have there hands busy and forget to signal. Can't shift gears etc. Why in the world would someone want to say it's my right, yet can't respect the rights of others to live. Saving one person life is worth more than a stupid phone call to pick up cat food on the way home.

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Jun 14, 2011

    A ban should be the rule for everyone, everywhere. I'm SO SICK of these important people who can't drive 5 miles w/o flapping their flipping gums the entire way. Get in my way and if a phone is jammed up to your head, I just may run into you and blame it on you. And guess what? I'll be in the right!

  • ScientiaVinces Jun 14, 2011

    Obligatory response to the self-described "northerner" risner0309 who is displeased with NC drivers: go back North, you won't be missed.

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