The town council of Chapel Hill, N.C., voted Monday, March 26, to ban all cell phone use while driving in the town limits – including the use of hands-free devices such as headsets.
The complete ban makes the North Carolina college town the first municipality in the United States to prohibit hands-free cell calls while driving.
The ordinance would make driving while talking on cell phone a secondary offense, which means a driver could be ticketed for it when stopped for another violation. The rule would make exceptions for emergency calls. Offending drivers would be fined $25.
Photo from leadinghands.org
Chapel Hill is the first municipality in the nation to ban hands-free cell phone use while driving in the town limits.
On March 12, the town council voted on a first reading of the ordinance. But because one council member was absent, they wound up with a 4-4 tie. On Monday night, with all council members present, the ban passed 5-4.
Although a public hearing had been held in February, four citizens spoke before the council Monday. The final speaker asserted that “Safety needs to trump convenience,” comparing the ordinance to laws making seatbelt use mandatory.
For background and more information, see my previous blog.