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As pressure mounts to curb distracted driving, one North Carolina town has made an unprecedented move, banning cell phone use in cars, including Bluetooth.
While most states have some type of ban on cell phone use while driving, Bluetooth hand’s free devices are promoted as a safer alternative – even if the jury is still out on if it really is. The State of North Carolina currently has a ban on hand held devices for drivers 18 and under, but those over the age of 18 have no restrictions. That is, unless you live in Chapel Hill.
The town of roughly 60,000 has just passed a law (with a vote of 5-4) prohibiting even the use of hand’s free devices like Bluetooth. The ban takes effect June 1st.
The first of its kind, the rules aren’t as strict as they first appear, however, with exceptions made for calling family members, or placing emergency calls. Plus, as a secondary offense, it’s not something that you can be pulled over for.
Despite having little to no support, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still pushing forward with its proposal to ban hands-free calling while operating a vehicle.
NTSB recommends that all cell phone use be banned for a driver but has failed to gain the support of NHTSA or any major automaker. Regardless, the organization has no plans to back down with NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman recently saying, “Whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, touching the dashboard, or waving at a windshield, it can be distracting. What is the price of our desire to be mobile and connected at the same time? Can any message, call, or text be worth someone’s life?”
We don’t expect any states to hop on board with NTSB’s plan despite the excessive attention given to distracted driving recently. But some suggestions make more sense than others. Donald Fisher for example, a University of Massachusetts professor, has proposed that “we ought to quickly move to banning cellphone use in work zones and school zones.”
Perhaps Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood should enlist the NTSB in his “hilarious” weekend hobby — cruising around town to find people talking on their phones while driving, and harassing them with his car horn.
The NTSB is an independent federal agency that makes recommendations to Congress and the White House, but has no law-making authority.
[Source: Washington Post]