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30 Mar, 2012

Chapel Hill, NC, First U.S. Town to Ban Total Cell Phone Use While Driving


ITASCA, Ill., March 29, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The National Safety Council applauds the town council in Chapel Hill, NC, for passing a total cell phone ban for all motorists, becoming the first town in the nation to ban hands-free use. Once the law goes into effect June 1, motorists also will be banned from using on-board wireless systems in vehicles – another first-of-its-kind measure.

“In passing a total ban, Chapel Hill has taken a significant step toward making their roads safer,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO at NSC. “Research shows hand-free devices offer drivers no safety benefit. Passing total cell phone bans – that include handheld and hands-free use – makes our roads safer. We praise Chapel Hill for this action. It will save lives.”

More than 30 studies clearly show hands-free devices do not offer any safety benefit because they do not eliminate the distraction to the brain. The brain is incapable of processing two demanding thinking tasks – talking on a cell phone and driving – simultaneously.

Cell phone distracted driving has been a hotly debated topic in recent years and gained further attention over the last few months. On Dec. 13, 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board became the first government organization to recommend all 50 states and D.C. completely ban the use of portable electronic devices for all motorists. NSC called for a total ban in January 2009.

Thee National Safety Council promotes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month and encourages everyone to take the NSC pledge to drive cell free at nsc.org/pledge. Thousands of fatal crashes each year involve drivers using cell phones. Those interested in getting involved in this issue can get started by taking the pledge and also find a variety of downloadable materials including posters, videos and more at nsc.org/ddmonth.

“It’s time to start changing the social acceptance of cell phone use while driving,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “While many understand the dangers, they still use their cell phones when they drive. We hope people will take the pledge this April to help prevent needless tragedies and keep our roadways safer.”

April also is a perfect time for employers to begin implementing total bans on cell phone use while driving for all employees. NSC developed its free  Cell Phone Policy Kit to help employers interested in implementing or enhancing a policy.

National Distracted Driving Awareness Month was introduced as a resolution by former Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO) and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in a 410-2 vote on March 23, 2010. The resolution mentions 9-year-old Erica Forney, who was struck and killed by a distracted driver in Fort Collins, CO, in November 2008. Erica’s mother, Shelley Forney, is a founding board member of FocusDriven – Advocates for Cell-Free Driving.

Visit nsc.org/ddmonth throughout the month of April for additional materials. NSC also would like to thank FirstGroup for being a sponsor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

About the National Safety Council