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Could cities completely ban cellphone use while driving?

Drivers in one U.S. city should think twice before they pick up that cellphone. The town, located in another state, recently became the very first in the country to completely ban cellphone use while driving, even hands-free devices. Safety advocates lauded the move and hope that it will ultimately prevent car accidents.

While there are many exceptions to the ban, it will essentially prevent drivers from using a cellphone or "related technology" that can access digital media. An addition to the town code prevents drivers 18 and older from using such devices while driving. (Those under 18 were already prohibited from doing so.)

If drivers are caught using their cellphones, they will face a fine of $25. However, it will be considered a secondary offense. That is, motorists cannot be pulled over just for using their phones. They have to be cited for something else first, like speeding.

As with any rule, there is an exception. Actually, many exceptions. Phones can, of course, be used in emergency situations, such as the need to contact the police, a hospital or the fire department. A somewhat surprising exception is that drivers are allowed to make phone calls if they are contacting a parent, guardian, child or spouse. They are also free to use the phone to make doctor appointments.

The president of the National Safety Council praised the ban and says that it should make the roads safer and therefore save lives. It will be interesting to see if more cities follow suit.

Source: PCMag.com, "Chapel Hill enacts total cellphone ban on drivers," Mark Hachman, March 29, 2012

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