Some businesses concerned about impact of Chapel Hill cell phone - WNCN: News, Weather

Some businesses concerned about impact of Chapel Hill cell phone ban

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By Justin Quesinberry

Some small business owners are expressing concern about the possible impact of a newly passed cell phone ban in Chapel Hill.

Frank Coker, owner of Senior Helpers, travels around the area to provide home care for seniors.

“My car is my office, yes, and I'm getting calls all day long in my office,” he said.

He said the new cell phone ban will make things difficult when he’s driving and working in Chapel Hill.

“If someone is stuck in the tub or they have fallen or there's a need to speak with a doctor right away, we need to be able to take that call and deal with that right away,” Coker said.

The law makes using a cell phone while driving a secondary offense, meaning police can’t pull someone over specifically for using a phone.

"It's not that we're against cell phones,” said Donna Bell, a town council member.

"If their phone calls are causing them to be unsafe drivers, then they might need to think about a different business model. But, if they believe that they can take care of their business and be a safe driver, then they shouldn't have any problems in Chapel Hill,” she said.

NBC-17 asked if that mean that drivers could still use a cell phone while driving as long as they do it safely.

“I'm saying that the police will not be pulling them over if they are on their cell phones and driving safely,” Bell said.

She said the law is designed to make people think about distractions.

“I have not gotten into trouble yet. I'm a fairly safe driver. I'm out here taking care of people. That's what I'm thinking about,” Coker said.

Bell said the law is a first step.

"We try and measure the impacts of the changes that we make, so any ordinance that we find that is cumbersome either for enforcement or isn't having the impacts that we want to have, then we have ways to change them or take them off the books,” she said.

The Attorney General’s Office is also weighing in on the law, saying the town cannot enforce it. Bell, however, said the town sees it differently and plans to put it into effect as planned June 1.

For more on the Attorney General's Office's take on the law: http://www2.nbc17.com/news/2012/mar/27/chapel-hill-take-second-vote-cell-phone-ban-ar-2089000/

 

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