Council members split 4 to 4 Monday evening on a vote to make Chapel Hill the first town in the state to ban talking on a cell phone while driving. The proposed ban includes using hands-free devices.
The proposal will be taken up again at the council's next business meeting.
Currently, North Carolina drivers are prohibited only from texting and driving. Drivers under 18 years old are banned from using any phone while in the car.
The ordinance was written with some leeway. Drivers could still use the phone when their car is stationary, like at a red light. However, once the light turns green and the car is in motion, drivers would have to hang up.
Drivers could be fined $25 for breaking the law but police would have to pull them over for a different reason. The charge would be secondary.
There would be some exceptions to the rule. Drivers could make emergency calls or calls to specific family members like a parent, child, legal guardian, or spouse.