Chapel Hill residents react to proposed ban on cell phone use wh - WNCN: News, Weather

Chapel Hill residents react to proposed ban on cell phone use while driving

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By Steve Sbraccia

A proposed cell phone ban for drivers in Chapel Hill is creating a lot of reaction among residents of that town.

“I believe in the non-texting thing, but not talking on the phone. That’s ridiculous,” said driver Symone Morales.

The man who proposed the ban to the Chapel Hill town council claims studies have shown that people can’t multi-task when they drive and that using a cell phone behind the wheel is as dangerous as being drunk behind the wheel.

“Three things are identical in risk,” claims Joe Capowski, a retired UNC Professor. “Driving with a blood alcohol level of .10, driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone and driving while talking on a hands free cell phone.”

Cell phone users NBC-17 spoke with say proponents may want to hang-up those moving cell phone calls, but the technological genie is out of the bottle.

“I think it’s a great idea, but I don’t know how realistic it would be,” said cell phone user Charles Umstead.

Capowski says police have indicated the ban would be easy to enforce.

“State troopers have said it’s pretty enforceable because a person while talking on a cell phone presents the same outward signs as a drunk person -  they weave, they drive too slow or too fast and they don’t control their cars well,” he said.

But even if there is a law against cell phone use while driving in Chapel Hill, some believe it wouldn’t be a deterrent.

“I think people are going to talk on their cell phones regardless of the law,” contends cell phone user Eli Smith.

But others say if it’s the law, it can be enforced.

“They make use seat belts, so they can make us not use the phone, said Alice Rodelli who supports the proposal.

But before any ban on cell phone ban occurs in Chapel Hill a couple of things have to happen.

The ordinance has to be written, then checked by attorneys. It them has to undergo a series of public hearings. All that will take months.

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