When Americans think of cell phone driving bans, most of the time they are probably contemplating the patchwork of state laws that have cropped up. What is illegal in one state may be perfectly permissible in another. Now, however, that patchwork has gotten a little bit more complex. This week, the town of Chapel Hill in North Carolina has voted to enact a ban on cell phone use behind the wheel. The law had been under consideration for two years prior to its passage.
When individual towns begin to enact these types of laws, motorists may be put in an untenable situation. After all, not everyone who drives in a town like Chapel Hill will be from the local area. Residents from other states may be passing through; in their own areas, it may be perfectly acceptable to talk on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. When an entire state passes a cell phone ban, it may be reasonable to expect that visitors to the state will be up to date on the laws.
The same thing may not be reasonable when an individual town has enacted a ban. After all, should visitors to North Carolina be expected to research each city and town they may pass through as they travel across the state? Even worse is the fact that people on vacation do not always plan their route.
The only thing that is certain in this situation is that driving and cell phone use in the United States will become a more complex issue if it is regulated on the local, rather than the state or national, level. Some would view local control as a good thing, the essence of American politics, in fact. Others, however, can definitely see some drawbacks.