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No Talking: Town Bans Cell Phone Use While Driving

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File photo of man on the phone while driving. (Credit: Michael Smith/Newsmakers)

File photo of man on the phone while driving. (Credit: Michael Smith/Newsmakers)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (CBS Charlotte/AP) — Chapel Hill will be the first North Carolina community to ban using cell phones while driving when a local ordinance takes effect in June.

The town council voted 5-4 late Monday to outlaw both hand-held and hands-free cell phones while driving. Town officials have been considering the ban for two years, but acted after the state Legislature did not.

Cell phone use would be a secondary offense, meaning an officer must first stop a vehicle for another reason before issuing a citation for violating the ban. Violators would be fined $25.

Council member Ed Harrison told the News Observer that most of the erratic drivers he encounters are ones on cell phones.

“[It] is not by people who are eating things or combing their hair or putting on lipstick,” he told the Observer. “It’s by people who are talking on a cell phone and not seeing me.”

North Carolina drivers already are prohibited from sending text messages while driving. Drivers under 18 are banned from any phone use.

The News Observer states that Evanston, Ill., the home of Northwestern University, has seen a 17.6 percent decrease of accidents since they banned the use of cell phones while driving two years ago.

Ten states and the District of Columbia have bans on using hand-held cell phones while driving.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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