What do you think about banning hand-held cell phones while driving?

At the Town Council meeting on January 25, 2010, I petitioned the council to open discussions about prohibiting hand held cell phone usage while driving in Chapel Hill.  I also proposed that the town hold a public forum on this topic where concerned citizens can express their opinions about this issue.  Since the election I have heard from many citizens who feel that it is becoming increasingly dangerous to drive in Chapel Hill because people are not paying attention to the road. The problem is particularly bad on campus.

Currently, there is no ban on handheld cell phone use while driving in North Carolina, though drivers under 18 and school bus drivers are banned from all cell phone use while driving, and all drivers are banned from texting while driving.  Local jurisdictions in North Carolina may or may not need specific state statutory authority to ban cell phones. This is a question that town attorney Ralph Karpinos would pose to the NC legislative body if Chapel Hill chooses to go forward with a ban.Throughout the country there are 7 States that ban hand held cell phone use while driving. Six states allow localities to ban cell phone use while driving and 11 jurisdictions in those states have done so. Localities are prohibited from banning cell phone use in 8 states.



I cannot speak to their methodology, but most studies show that talking on a phone while driving is very distracting, whether the phone is handheld or not. More distracting than talking to a passenger or listening to the radio. I believe it. I wish people would drive better, and don’t see how talking on the phone at the same time helps. That means you would need a ban on all phone use while driving, not just on handheld phones, to achieve your goal.And a ban on all phone use is hard to enforce. I don’t get to ride in many new cars, but the ads show all sorts of nifty built in hands-free phone devices as features, no earpiece needed. How can a law enforcement officer legitimately tell as a car passes by that a driver is talking on a hands free phone or just muttering to themselves or singing along to the radio? Wouldn’t the police end up stopping more people on the lower end of the economic scale who aren’t driving newer more equipped cars? I also worry about adding criminal ordinances. Couldn’t there be more pretextural stops where an officer claims they stopped someone because they thought a hands free phone call was being made when they just wanted an excuse to stop a car but didn’t really have a legitimate reason? Would we post signs at the town borders letting visitors know this was a no phone region? Would there be an exemption for drivers calling 911 while they are being chased by some maniac or some other emergency? Post is long enough, so I’ll stop.

I think the question of police enforcement is a critical one here, thanks for bringing it up.  Laws like this give law enforcement extensive freedom to "manufacture" possible cause and pull people over, even if said cause is non-existent.  Since virtually any activity in the car could appear to violate laws like this -- even driving without any visible mouth movement -- the police are given a pretext to stop any old car they'd like to stop.  This raises huge questions about the Constitutional propriety of that sort of law.

New rules and their enforcement should focus on reckless vehicle maneuverance rather than the object of drivers' distractions.  While at first glance, it may seem unwise to treat effect over cause, but there are far too many distractions to police and ban each one in turn.

Better to encourage wiser driving across the board and punish reckless driving more stringently than focus on just one of the many ways--including eating, applying makeup and fishing around in the backseat for a soup can--we divert our attention from the road and the safety of ourselves and others.

Cell phone use is nothing more than another point along the huge continuum of driving distractions.  We should be cracking down on the true dangerous activity in question -- namely, unsafe driving maneuvers.  We could legislate away specific distractions until the end of days, and not really do anything to stop people from becoming distracted while they drive.Let's focus on actual unsafe driving, and not on the thousands of different possibly distracting things that folks do in the car.

Where does it stop?  Next it will be no eating while driving, no radio changing while driving.  Are there distractions in the car?  Sure. Should we attempt to legislate all of them away?  NO!  This seems like a horrible idea.  Plus Anne brings up good points, will the town enforce and publicize the ban?  Enough of the nanny state. 

Amen to whatever most restrictive laws we can pass.  An outright ban is unenforceable, as Anne points out, because many people and businesses rely so heavily on mobile communication.  In the case of young drivers, I'd tack a cell phone restriction onto those imposed on drivers' permits and (guessing here) those limiting the number of passengers for a year or so after that.  A carful of cell-yakkers and texters would seem to distract drivers of all ages -- not only teens.  Cell phone use by drivers is a proven distraction.  Good luck with this initiative, Penny.  Maybe Carrboro could follow suit.  - c.

I'm far from the first to point this out in this thread, but the list of "proven distractions" to drivers is virtually infinite.  Who exactly decides which distracting activities should be banned, and which distracting activities should be allowed?  Where should that person draw the line?  Should it be illegal for me to get behind the wheel when I've got too much on my mind?  Perhaps we could have DWD check-points to make sure nobody is driving around distracted without being detected?I agree that cell phone use is dangerous while driving.  I just don't think it's possible to be logically (or legally) consistent with policies against specific, enumerated distractions.

I definitely wish people wouldn't talk on the phone while driving, but I don't get why we should legislate against this single activity among the countless distractions that impair people's driving every day.For example, what about eating behind the wheel (something I've been guilty of many times)? Or tweeting while I'm stuck in trafic (maybe even to report an accident)? Or having a heated conversation, or trying to find my sunglasses, or singing to a cranky baby in the back seat?

While I did see a little old lady driving 55 in a 65 while talking on her cell phone and smoking a cigarette, I have a hunch she couldn't drive well anyway.Also, the minivan mom militia is more distracted by the kids in the backseat than the cell phone. I don't think the guy with the boomer Toyota in Chapel Hill can even hear his cell phone, but the driving there sucks.As for me, I use a bluetooth device. I don't feel comfortable holding a phone and driving. I also cut calls short when it's raining or heavy traffic. I don't know that we can legislate self-awareness. Personally, I like to have both hands free, because I had a bad car accident in the days before cell phones where if I didn't have both hands on the wheel, I probably would be dead. I wasn't distracted - my tire blew, it was a thunderstorm and there was not a thing I could do except try to avoid hitting a pole at 55 mph. You can't do that with one hand.I don't think anyone who has had a serious accident can really understand not using a hands-free device, but I don't understand motorcycles either. :)When my son, who is 13, starts driving, I am going to look into a device or software that disables it while the car is in motion. If it doesn't exist, then he is going to get a hands-free device and wear it. It's not going to help, because teenagers will do dumb things anyway, but I want him to do them with both hands on the wheel.As for an outright ban, then you have to ban all passenger conversations. Also, my mother would never be allowed to ride with anyone. Come to think of it neither would I, because I am distracting enough. Also, take out the radio, the GPS, the Radar Detector, the visor with mirrors, the iPod... Where do you stop? Distracted driving is an issue, but cell phones aren't anymore of a problem than the things Ruby mentioned. They are just more obvious.

In case he reads this: if he uses it while driving and I find out (and I will find out), the problem will solve itself, because he won't have one.I don't need a law to remember I have the final control.

... as is the case so often, is best accomplished via economically-incentivized behavioral reinforcement.Here's how this works:  if you're in a wreck that causes ANY property damage or personal injury of ANY kind, your insurance company should be given the legal right to access your cell phone records for one hour before the incident.   If it turns out you were on the cell phone and they can prove it, you are subject to your insurance carrier's "cell phone user" policy limitations, such as a doubling of your deductible, or some other similar penalty.  And, when they find this, you also have your rates raised for 3 years.Put this idea into practice, and watch all the cell phones hang up, quick.  No new regulations on personal behavior needed, no civil liberties affected, no cops wasting time looking for people on the phone.  The private sector solution is ALWAYS the most effective.

What if you weren't in your car when you made the phone call during the hour before your accident? No need to reply. You wrote before thinking.

... you wrote before reading:"If it turns out you were on the cell phone and they can prove it "How's that "if they can prove it" part not work for you?   The intent is to minimize casual use of the cell phone while driving, because a screw-up will cost you plenty.  If you have a better idea, kindly share it.

I walk on Manning Drive daily, and I've come close to being hit a couple of times by people talking on their phones. So I understand the motivation. But each of those times, I was in a clearly marked crosswalk with a light telling me I had the right of way. There were no police around to enforce the violation of the existing pedestrian safety laws, whether there was a cell phone in use or not. Unfortunately, even when there are police around, they still don't enforce those laws. Pedestrian safety doesn't seem like a priority IMHO. Several of us have complained for years about speeders on Smith Level Road. We still don't see police out enforcing the current speed limits. So is it realistic to expect that a new ban on a popular activity will really be enforced? If there is no expectation of enforcement, what purpose will the ban serve?

cans because its the law than would if it wasn't, even if it isn't particularly enforceable.  So I think an unenforcable ban would have some effect and generate more public discussion and more concious behavior over time when it comes to driving with cell phones.That said I use my cell phone in the car for short periods all the time.  Like a quick call to let my mom know when I'm visiting that I've just crossed over into Cary town limits so I'll be at her place soon, or asking a friend to go ahead downstairs so I can pick them up as soon as I get there when we're on a deadline, or if I decide to hit up the Wendy's drive thru on my way home from class to see if my husband wants anything.  I don't ever really use it for long discussions or heated debates or anything overly distracting.  Cell phone usage in the car has been a fact of my entire adult life and I haven't wrecked yet.  Then again I've seen people on cell phones nearly slam into me on 40 because they didn't check their blind spot on more than one occassion.I'm not sure off hand how I'd feel about a ban, but a discussion of it doesn't seem unreasonable especially given the recent precedent of the statewide banning of texting while driving earlier this month.

Until data shows that these phone bans actually work at reducing accidents, there's no point even considering it. Most states and localities that have phone bans have not experienced any change in the accident rate.

Where are you going to get the data proving that a phone ban reduces accidents if there isn't a phone ban in place?    The data that's readily available are the stats on the number of accidents in which cell phone use is implicated - and that's not only already available, it's serious enough for jurisdictions to seek the ban. Also, it's not necessarily an increase or decrease in total number of accidents, it's changes in cause and circumstance. It also doesn't make sense to argue that since phone calls are inherently distracting, you shouldn't ban handheld phone use.  I agree that it's more problematic to ban all cellphone use - handheld or not - but that difficulty doesn't mean you throw up your hands and leave everyone - drivers, passengers, third parties - exposed to demonstrably and widely increased risk.  Deadly distraction is deadly distraction, but headset use does, at least, remove the need for using one hand for something other than driving. I've seen idjut drivers reading books, eating using both hands, putting on makeup in the rear-view mirror, etc., but they don't represent the huge portion of the driving population that now owns and uses cell phones.   You and I wouldn't read (I HOPE) while driving, and the other activities span a spectrum of "maybe" or "occasionally" - but the phone rings and how many of us actually pull over to answer?Enforcement can be, probably, no more consistent than enforcement of speeding laws - but that randomness itself can be a deterrent.  Add to that the threat of added police charges in case of an accident where you're at fault, plus the threat of insurance costs being increased or coverage withdrawn after such an accident. Whether any of this can happen solely at the town level, however, is open to question. But in principle, it's worth doing, and the "slippery slope" argument against it doesn't, er, hold water.

"Where are you going to get the data proving that a phone ban reduces accidents if there isn't a phone ban in place?"There are plenty of phone bans in place throughout the country. Wouldn't it be valuable to examine if those bans have reduced accident rates before passing a ban here?

Cell Phone Bans Don't Decrease Accidents, Study Sayshttp://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123084040

An issue is comparability in traffic patterns and density -- ruling out a phone ban in Chapel Hill on the basis of findings in areas with much more traffic, much less traffic, more highways, more rural roads, wouldn't necessarily be valid even if it superficially supported opposition to a ban.  Moreover, the sophistication of the data collection isn't assured: It's one thing to tabulate victims in crashes with drivers still holding a live cellphone or who tattle on themselves.  It's another to know which crashes were caused by a cell-using driver who wasn't directly involved but who nonetheless caused the accident.  You can test for blood-alcohol level; there's no way to test for cellphone use after the fact without subpoenaing phone record and you'd still have to prove it was the driver using the phone, but even then - how would you know whose phone to test if the user-driver has long since left the area, leaving mayhem behind?  Insisting on waiting for stats when you've seen some lunatics jabbering away while they straddle a lane or run through a light is a feeble dodge.  We don't even need to wait until there's an accident within town boundaries to know the risk: we have ample -- anecdotal but compelling - examples just in the last 2 months in the Triangle. 

I don't disagree with your statements here at all -- results in one municipality may not necessarily carry over to ours. That said, are you applying that logic universally? Because I highly doubt that studies showing that cell phone use is dangerous were carried out in Chapel Hill with Chapel Hill drivers. You can't dismiss foreign precedent in one case and embrace it in another.Looking for data to support your actions (legislative or otherwise) is not a "feeble dodge". It's sound logic. If we're considering passing a ban on cell phone use while driving, don't you think we need something beyond anecdotal evidence to justify it? I'm not even opposed to the idea of a ban -- I'm simply opposed of doing it as an end to itself.

My argument is that insisting on research (from paid consultants with highly variable methodology and research design) doesn't often give either side of an argument like this irrefutable proof, but it almost always does provide both sides with enough material to continue the debate, eventually wasting valuable time, money, and patience on the part of the public. Waiting for satisfactory margin-of-error decimals and standardized definitions of what constitutes evidence of cellphone use in which kind of accidents -- when you repeatedly witness idiotic driving by someone with a cellphone in hand and you can read about tragic accidents one or two towns over -- well, it's exactly the sort of thing that feeds exasperation with government. "No, we need more study..."There were similar arguments as municipalities considered penalties for drunk driving.  Maybe we should do some studies to see how many accidents involving impaired drivers happened between the beginning that debate, calling in the experts, and finally enacting regulations.  Believe it or not, some people against a "ban" of alcohol use by drivers argued that people too drunk to drive simply couldn't function well enough to get the modern, complicated automobile to start.  Perhaps we should stop referring to a "ban" and simply include cellphones on the list of the things you can't drive "under the influence of." And yes, simply enacting a ban isn't enough - it does need the teeth of enforcement and threatened insurance penalties. Otherwise, your logic implies that I can just keep answering my cellphone when I'm at the wheel until you tell me you're completely satisfied with the research.

If it saves one life, it works. http://www.drivinglaws.org/top10/10-reasons.php


I.  Close all fast food restaurants in Chapel Hill.

2.  Require 30 minutes of daily exercise for all citizens.

3.  Require mandatory CPR classes for all citizens over the age of 13.

4.  Ban the sale of cigarrettes in Chapel Hill.

5.  Require all mothers to breast feed their children.

6.  Ban the sale of alcohol in Chapel HIll.

7.  Require all parents to vaccinate their children.

8.  Require all parents to have their children wear helmets on bikes and scooters.

9.  Require us to all wear uniforms and carry around a small red book in our
back pocket so we don't dare forget the mulititude of ordinances passed
by the Chapel Hill Town Council.

All of these things, with the exception of #9,  would also save one
life, in fact, many lives.   They are all really good ideas. 
Personally, I don't drink, smoke, eat fast food and I breastfed,
vaccinated and put helmets on my kids, but can we legislate this

Do we WANT to legislate this? 

Do we want to POLICE this?  

Of all the problems we have in our community today, is this
really something the council needs to be spending valuable time (and
money) discussing and researching?  Ater no mention of this in your
voter owned election campaign and after less than 2 months in office, 
banning cell phones is all of a sudden a critical issue
that will take up  town resources, time and money?  What about property
taxes? What about Franklin Street?  What about traffic patterns?

Banning the use of cell phones is an easy thing to get riled up
about, to get people excited about, to get attention for.  The key word
here is "easy" (or is it "attention"?)
Governing is hard work.  Roll up your sleeves and get to work on the
difficult, real and substantive issues affecting the people in our

Sorry but that list (except for #9) would result in actually a pretty decent situation, in my opinion.  (We could try to come up with a list of progressive "horrors" that might truly please a libertarian... #1.  Eliminate all speed limits....)

are effectively already eliminated, due to the sheer lack of enforcement.  I have a speed radar gun in my car and regularly clock people at 45+ in a 25 MPH school zone.  As in, reliably, every morning.When government at any level proves to me it's even nominally competent at doing ANYTHING except wasting my tax dollars, I'll be all ears.

the leadership of town shifted to another political philosophy. Would you be willing to abide by the behavioral control laws enacted by, say a group of fundamentalists? Should we all have to attend church at least once a week? I'm sure we'd all benefit, and maybe we'd be nicer to each other. But is that local governments function? This discussion reminds me of Cam Hill's petition to ban leaf blowers. We're all annoyed by the noise, but that isn't the issue. Why enact yet another behavioral control law that can't or won't be enforced? To me, it sets a dangerous precedent. I don't want someone down the road telling me I have to go to church, or that I have to drive a SUV because occupants in small cars are more at risk. 

Apparently, you can't detect a light tone of voice in what I posted re: "Sounds good to me."All lightness aside: 1. There's a substantial, indeed crucial difference between the consequences -- for the community -- of leaf blowers or not attending church, and the consequences of seriously compromised driver attention.   2. One doesn't base decisions about proposed regulations first or entirely on guesses about future enforcement.  Yes, the two go hand-in-hand, but they are and should be separable issues.  Some laws would indeed be a priori unenforceable ('no one should eat tuna and chocolate together') because there's no predictable way to determine when that law has been broken, or there's no conceivable penalty that is at least somewhat related to the consequences of the crime -- so it would indeed be a waste of time to pursue such legislation. But just because it's impossible to catch all speeders and all drunk drivers - and legislators knew this from the outset - doesn't mean there was no point in passing legislation seeking to reduce the bad impact on society of drunk driving.   

If someone is talking on their cell phone and they cause an accident, wouldn't they be subject to penalties around reckless driving? Why isn't that good enough? If we all know there won't be enforcement, since we've seen reckless driving, speeding, etc. right in front of the police, what purpose does yet another law that can be ignored serve? Doesn't adding more laws that are not expected to change behavior for the majority reduce the likelihood that the really important laws will be followed? Maybe this i's just my minimalist beliefs coming out. While I believe in the power and effectiveness of government at all levels, I am not a believer in micro-management.

Governing is about prioritizing.  Taking this stand is clearly not putting priorities in the right place. I can tell you, I've had a lot more close calls on CH roads because of:a) Jaywalkers; and b) changing the radio station. If you want to do something about that, go ahead.  But don't focus on bogus issues just because they are easy.

OK, why not keep a running count of incidents where you observe goofy driving: 1. and you can see the driver is on the phone2.  because of a jay walker3. because of a bicyclist4. you can see the driver changing the radio station5. you can see the driver is yelling at misbehaving kids6. you can see the driver is watching the overhead video player My experience is that #1 substantionally outnumbers the others, but #3 is up there - I don't encounter all that many jaywalkers although I admit many are on their cellphones.You have no control over the jay walker or the cyclist, but if you're the driver you do have control (up to a point with kids) over what you do.  We avoid drinking and driving because we know it's a problem, and we know it's illegal, and we know we could have big trouble if we're caught. In any case, it's not just whether you are a distracted driver, it's whether you're on the same road with one.  Re: reckless driving charges:  we do need to specify that cellphone use is an aggravating (by legal definition) factor in finding a driver guilty of reckless driving, just as we would with alcohol or drugs.... it should affect the level of charges, the level of penalty, and the policies of the insurers.    

There are very few phone calls that are so important as to justify putting someone else at risk on the highways.  At the same risk as caused by a .08 BAC driver.  Personally I would like to see a full, enforced ban on cell phone use while driving, enforced either by police or the insurance companies with a clause something like  "If you cause an accident while talking on a cell phone, or texting, we won't pay the claim".  But I doubt if the insurance companies, even though it would be to their benefit to have such a clause, will go for it.Consider the 1996 Phi Gam fire that killed five people, and was started by someone throwing a lit cigarette into a trashcan in the basement.  Only after that tragic and very well-pulished accident, did the town and UNC get serious about the sprinkler issue.It's only a matter of time before we have a similar tragic cell-phoning-driver caused accident here.  Indeed I wouldn't call it an accident, because it is so predictable.  When that happens, maybe the decision makers at the UNC, towns, and state level will actually do something.While it may be difficult to enforce a ban at driving time, it is very possible to enforce the ban after the fact, i.e., after the accident, as a record of every cell phone call and every text message is kept in the telecom company computers.  I assume here that these records are accessible by plaintiffs in court trials.My neighborhood is populated with UNC students who drive and talk constantly among pedestrians, bicyclists, dog walkers, baby pushers, etc.  Why would we wait for the tragic event? 

Instead of Banning the use of cell phones while driving, it would be more pragmatic to do the following:  Institute a law that requires an automatic fine on anyone who causes an accident while knowingly engaged in an activity that takes their attention from the road: such as, talking on the phone, changing a CD, eating, drinking, shaving or putting on make-up.  I once watched a man driving a car while eating soup with a spoon!And the automatic fine needs to be in the area of $5,000.  This will make people the monitor of their own actions.  This amount will make individuals think twice about talking and learn to cut short their extra-driving activities.I have read that there is a lot of evidence that talking on the phone distracts the driver. But what are the accident statistics on this?  Does anyone know?  Why are the insurance companies not charging more for premiums if the applicant owns a cell phone?They would be the first to want to avoid payouts. Personally, I feel it is not fair to punish someone who IS capable of handling a short phone call while driving just because some will talk for hours, or try to conduct business while behind the wheel and cause problems.  There are times I simply MUST take a call, and many of you have been in the same boat;  a child is ill and must be picked up from school, there has been a change in plans somewhere along the line, you are going to be late for an appointment.  A total ban would make it illegal to call 911 and report that you drove past an accident, or were being followed by a strange vehicle, or an unmarked car with a police light wants you to pull over, or you just saw the vehicle associated with an Amber Alert.If Chapel Hill implements this, will we have to post signs at the town lines to tell the thousands of people who come here from around the state to attend University functions that they are suddenly subject to a law they do not know about?  Could this affect  local businesses who sell products and services to these visitors?  Or families coming to visit the ill in our hospital, and struggling to keep in connection with additional family, or find their way to the Ronald MacDonald house?  There are many valid reasons to use a cell phone while driving. Punish the people who cause a particular problem, not the people who do not.  Vicki Boyer 

I do think it's more about simply going after bad driving, rather than simply using the cell phone.  I lived in Connecticut for three years, and they enacted a ban on cell phone usage while driving during that time.  I did see a person get pulled over for it once, but I don't think, given how people drive in general in Connecticut, this one person getting a ticket was going to prevent all that many accidents.  I regularly saw people run red lights there (as well as here), which to me is by far more serious overall (except maybe on the Interstate, where driving situations can change very quickly.) I live off of West Rosemary, and trying to cross that street during rush hour, where there are marked crosswalks that I regularly try to use, has been much more of an issue for me than cell phone users.  Yesterday a policewoman saw me trying to cross, watched several cars fly through the crosswalk while I was standing there, and did nothing.  I realize that my own local issues aren't necessarily everyone's issues, but my point is that the broader problem of careless driving is being ignored, and cell phone usage is an easy culprit.  (For the record, I never use my cell phone when driving; I pull over or take the next exit if I need to make a call.  Easy peasey.)

Before diving into this, consider that driving fatalitites per capita and per 100,000 miles driven are at a low point and declining - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transportation_safety_in_the_United_StatesSo why do we feel like there is a problem?  Is it just anecdotal and we feel it's an annoying habit that also makes for a good news angle?  Yes, Cell phone use is a relatively new phenomenon, but widespread adoption is definitely within the time frame of the data I just linked to.  And yes, there are studies that prove that cell phone use is distracting.  But saying it's distracting is not sufficient to say it's a major problem that needs to be outlawed for everyone. The "good drivers" I know are not "good drivers" because they never talk on their phones, they're good drivers because they make good judgements.  People with bad judgement are liable to be distracted by whatever distractions are available (radio, iPod, CD, Garmin).  Cell phones happen to be the distraction of the moment.Personally, I enjoy talking on the phone while driving.  On the interstate, especially on long trips, I would argue that it keeps me more more alert and safer (though I'm sure some would say I'm deluding myself).  Part of that, though, is that because I know I'm slightly distracted  I tend to drive more conservatively and do less passing while chatting. IF there is a problem (and I'm not sure there is) then the solution probably lies in building better habits in our drivers.  Should we further incentivize driver's ed (insurance discounts) or require it?  I'm not sure but I think that's a better way to deal with this.  It doesn't tramp on anyone's "right" to talk, and it's likely going to be more effective. Notes on the data - Yes, much of the improvement could be attributed to many factors, safer cars, airbags,  etc.  But we're still safer, so we can be happy for that.  I also realize the link is to wikipedia, but the data is sourced from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you think cellphone use is not a problem and shouldn't be banned, would you lift the ban for under-18 and school bus drivers? 

... if the State has granted an individual a driver's license, why should that person, by reason of age or occupation, have to live by different rules than another similarly recognized and permitted person?Instead, how about restoring individual accountability and responsibility?  I recognize the concept is anathema around here, but, it's the ONLY way that people can live in safety and with mutual respect.

Where is that place, this anti-Chapel Hill, where "individual accountability and responsibility" have been restored?  Please provide us with info about this model community.

and that's the problem ... when such a place does come into existence - as someday it must or our species will perish - it's likely not to happen here first.  There are too many people locally who want to legislate behavior and in so doing remove the individual's responsibility to act with civility towards society.  The very fact that this thread exists is proof of it.

for the first materialization of a community of such high consciousness that laws are unnecessary, we should enact no laws governing behavior because that is risky. Steve, that could be a tough sell.

I don't think we're talking about school bus driver safety here.  But since you bring it up...They have their own set of classes, regulations, and certifications, and I think that's perfectly sensible.  School buses are a totally different beast.  They also have giant stop signs attached to their sides, but no one is suggesting they attach those to my Chevy. Kids provide more than enough distraction to the drivers, but you can't ban the brats, unfortunately, so the drivers can afford less distraction.
That being said, truckers have always had CB's and greyhound drivers can use them too. And as I say about me personally, I think that makes them safer.For young drivers, though, some restriction can be sensible.  In Pennsylvania I had to have a "Junior License" til I was 17, which included a state mandated curfew of  Midnight.  It wasn't highly enforced, but it was an extra reason to drive cautiously at 12:01.  I think those resitrctions are pretty appropriate for new drivers, and strict enforcement isn't really the focus anyway.  But at some point, you do take the training wheels off.Again, I just don't see this being a major problem in the adult driving population.

Ideally speaking I'm in favor of banning cell phones while driving but practically speaking I'm not.  And when it comes to governing, I think practicality should trump idealism. Relative to how unsafe the roads in CH were before cell phones, how much more unsafe are they now?  Very little.  Note that I used the word "relative."  Because already, drivers routinely ignore speed limits and bikers routinely run stoplights and stop signs and walkers routinely walk wherever they want.  It seems to me that the lower hanging fruit is to address some of those issues rather than make yet one more law that will be ignored and have little if any effect on what actually happens in the real world. I worry that we spend too much time and effort on things that have symbolic meaning but not substantive meaning and too little effort on the reverse.  Enacting a ban on using a cell phone while driving makes us feel good and righteous right now but has little effect on the real world.  OTOH, figuring out how to effectively enforce traffic laws that are currently routinely ignored is unpleasant grunt work that nobody wants to do but that has a real effect on the real world.

A couple of years ago, CH tried to do some publicity around campus about jaywalking.  Don't know that it was effective, but given the deaths that have occured since then, there clearly is room for improvement. 

I agree with the idea that insurance companies should be in a position to tie insurance coverage and/or rates to cell phone use. For example, people who promise to not use a cell phone at all could get preferred rates. One factor that could strengthen the insurance companies' hand is if a ban is indeed instituted. The initial ban will of course have to be on hand-held cell-phone use. It will come, soooner or later, in NC as it has in other states. The whole idea of enforcement problems is a non-issue. It can be enforced as seat-belt laws are enforced. No dragnets are necessary. Police can enforce it when they see it if they have time or if it occurs when something else comes up, like an accident.Recall the clamor over requiring use of seat belts. Oh dear, Big Brother is watching! It's all died down and most people with any sense just fasten their seat belts. It will be the same with cell phone bans.Here's another one that could help illuminate the cell phone issue. Think for a minute before reading the next sentences about whether or not it is legal to drive with bare feet, and then also think about whether or not driving bare foot would be a problem. Many people have been led to believe that the practice is either dangerous, or bespeaks societal rebellion (as in the 1960's). But in point of fact, the old (I'm not sure about the present) NC driver's education manual actually advocated taking one's shoe off as a means of providing a bit of a change in case a person was a little tired on the road. Feeling the pedal with one's foot is not at a problem, just as driving with gloves on is not. Zero states have laws against driving barefoot, but many people think it is illegal.My point is that we need to think a bit before reacting emotionally to an issue like this. 

Town Hall, Monday Feb.22, 7 p.m.Lot's of good points on this blog . Please come share them at the Public Forum.http://townhall.townofchapelhill.org/agendas/2010/02/08/5f/ 

http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/6412296/article-Proposed-town-b...In what way and to what extent would/could it make a difference to be driving on a state road vs. a town road?  Would someone hang up when he turns onto Franklin Street, then redial after turning into a neighborhood?  Or vice versa? Are there other areas - other than speed limit - in which there are clear differences between town and state laws governing driving?


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