Chapel Hill, N.C. becomes first city in U.S. to ban all mobile phone use while driving


As noted by CBS News recently, town officials in Chapel Hill, North Carolina voted to ban all mobile phone use while operating a vehicle. This includes a ban on hands-free use within an automobile as well as using a smartphone to access the Internet while driving. Texting while driving was already prohibited by North Carolina state law. Beginning at the start of June 2012, anyone caught using a cell phone while driving will be issued a $25 fine. However, police will not actively pursue a driver that ‘s seen talking on a cell phone while driving. If the driver is speeding or commits another violation while talking on a mobile phone, a ticket will be issued for the offense.

new group fights distracted drivers in us texting while drivingChapel Hill drivers can use a phone while driving to call emergency services such as the police, the fire department or an ambulance. Drivers are also exempt from a ticket if they can prove they were calling a “parent, child, legal guardian or spouse.” The ordinance will be enforced on all streets across Chapel Hill including state-owned roads. Chapel Hill has nearly 60,000 residents and is home to a popular college, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

The National Safety Council issued a statement earlier today praising the actions of the town council in Chapel Hill. President and CEO Janet Froetscher stated “In passing a total ban, Chapel Hill has taken a significant step toward making their roads safer. Research shows hand-free devices offer drivers no safety benefit. Passing total cell phone bans — that include handheld and hands-free use — makes our roads safer. We praise Chapel Hill for this action. It will save lives.” Last year, a study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association last year found that hands-free cell phone usage was just as dangerous as holding the cell phone up to the ear while driving.