The Town of Chapel Hill, home of the University of North Carolina Tarheels, is preparing to ban the use of cell phones while driving. This isn’t exactly a new issue for the town. The town council has pondered such a ban at various times over the last year or two.
At one point consideration of a ban was shelved while the North Carolina General Assembly seemed set to take the matter up. The measure, however, failed to gain traction in the state legislature.
North Carolina law bans drivers under age 18 from using cell phones while driving. Eight states and the District of Columbia have complete bans.
Proponents of a ban cite research from UNC’s own Highway Safety Research Center showing that cellphone use while driving increases the risk of a crash by four times. Others, however, argue that the matter is an issue for the state legislature and that local governments should steer clear.
Last week the town council voted 6-2 to proceed with consideration of a ban. Council members agreed, however, to seek an opinion from Roy Cooper, the state’s Attorney General, about whether the town has the authority to enact the measure.