Friday, April 6, 2012


I suspect the entire country knows by now that the Chapel Hill Town Council voted 5 to 4 to ban all cell phone use while operating a vehicle.  Prior to making this decision they heard plenty about why this isn’t a god idea, but they did it anyway.  It appears that logic and common sense was trumped by the desire to be the first to have such a law, even if it was uncertain that they stood on firm legal ground to do this.   

This action is also troubling because our police officers now have an even harder job.  If they stop someone and cite him or her for this secondary offense, the exceptions, discriminatory, counter-productive, and illogical as they are, will probably be used to get out of a ticket.  What’s the officer to do to prove that someone’s untruthful, snatch the phone and review the call history?  What about our many visitors?  This “only in Chapel Hill only law” will confuse them.   

Bottom line is that this unenforceable law will lead to less respect for the law, and it’s not clear that it has any chance of affecting the serious problem of distracted driving.  Many people will continue to drive while talking on their phones, and they will feel smug about doing so if some court throws it out.   

The five in the majority didn’t want to wait for the General Assembly to act, nor were they willing to wait to learn how much their education plan might actually cost the taxpayers.  If you respect our citizens, our police officers, and our visitors, is this a way to show it?  I think not.