North Carolina town plans to ticket drivers for any cellphone use

April 14, 2012

By Brooks Blanton,

If you’re driving through Chapel Hill, N.C., and your cellphone rings, don’t answer it. Starting June 1, you can get a $25 dollar ticket for talking on your cellphone while driving within the city limits.
In a close 5-4 vote, the town council decided to ban any phone calls made while operating a vehicle – that includes hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth and speakerphones.

Chapel Hill, home to the University of North Carolina, is the first municipality in the nation to enact a complete ban on all cellphone use in cars. Town council member Penny Rich says a large number of pedestrians and bicyclists navigating sidewalks and streets among drivers who tend to multitask is a dangerous mix.

“The distraction is not holding the phone. The distraction is actually the conversation,” Rich said. “So just holding the phone is not what is making you drive poorly, it’s the conversation.”

The ban is a second-offense violation. So the Chapel Hill police will not pull you over if they see you talking on a phone. A ticket will only be issued if they stop you for another traffic violation, such as speeding or running a red light, and find that you were talking on your phone.

The National Transportation Safety Board supports the ban and is trying to promote statewide cellphone bans in all 50 states.

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