Last March, Chapel Hill, North Carolina became the first locality in the United States to completely prohibit the use of cell phones, including hands-free devices, while driving. The American Trucking Association released a statement indicating “this move is significant since other local jurisdictions may soon follow, creating an additional challenge for drivers in tracking the various laws of each jurisdiction in which they operate.”
The new ordinance begs the question – should hands free devices be banned for all drivers, whether they are operating a truck or automobile? While many view hands-free devices as safer, is that truly the case? Or are they just magnifying the volume of our distraction, enveloping a higher degree of our already thinly-spread senses?
In our society of ever increasing safety awareness, it is time to focus on the road. Chapel Hill’s new ordinance should be applauded and enacted as federal law. It is the next step in the evolution of trucking and vehicle safety.
The advent of these new laws mandate carriers to educate their drivers on the cell phone laws of the various jurisdictions within which they travel. In the unfortunate event of an accident in which a driver is using a cell phone contrary to local law, this could set the stage for a negligence per se claim.