Talking on your Cell Phone while driving forbidden in Chapel Hill

Those of you who frequently talk on your cell phone while driving take note – this practice will become illegal in Chapel Hill on June 1. Yesterday, Chapel Hill, North Carolina became the first town in the nation to outlaw talking on a cell phone, whether hands free or not, while driving.

Of course, this may not be the last word on the issue.  State Attorney General Jess Mekeel has said that “the town may not regulate activity in a field where the state intends to provide ‘a complete and integrated regulatory scheme.’ ” The state currently bans the use of cell phones by drivers under the age of 18, school bus drivers, and anyone reading email or texting while driving.

According to Mekeel, “An ordinance by the Town of Chapel Hill regulating motorists’ use of cell phones is preempted by State law, and therefore, unenforceable.”

However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) supports the ordinance in Chapel Hill, and there is currently a ban on hand-held cell phones in Evanston, Illinois, home of Northwestern University.  Since enacting the ordinance two years ago, accidents there have decreased 17.6%, according to Chapel Hill Town Council member Penny Rich.

I am of the opinion that is a prudent and smart move by the town. People will have to get used to the change, but the ban itself is likely to decrease the number of accidents and hopefully save lives. I believe it is just a matter of time before this becomes the norm across the state. I previously wrote about my opinions on this here.