Raleigh Car Accident Attorney Says Chapel Hill Cell Phone Ban Sends Proper Message

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Ben Cochran of Hardison & Cochran, Attorneys at Law, says prohibitions on drivers’ cell phone use will save lives and shape public opinion against distracted driving.

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Raleigh personal injury attorney Ben Cochran

Cell phone use, like other forms of distracted driving, is increasingly blamed in a variety of motor vehicle accidents. Political leaders as well as law enforcement officials need to take a stand against it.

Raleigh car accident attorney Ben Cochran said today that the Town of Chapel Hill’s first-in-the-nation ban on using a cell phone while driving is a progressive move that will save lives.

“Laws shape activity, and a prohibition on cell phone use will result in fewer drivers distracted by phones and texting. In turn, that will hopefully mean fewer car accidents, injuries and deaths,” said Cochran, managing partner at Hardison & Cochran, Attorneys at Law, a Raleigh personal injury firm with additional offices in Durham, Fayetteville, Wilmington and other North Carolina cities.

“This ban on cell phone use while driving should be seen as a positive, forward-looking step,” he said.

Chapel Hill leaders approved the ordinance March 21 in a split vote that makes talking on hand-held or hands-free cell phones while driving illegal as of June 1, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. Drivers would be allowed to make emergency calls and calls to a spouse, parent or child. Violators will be fined $25.

North Carolina already bans text messaging while driving. The state prohibits drivers younger than age 18 from using any mobile communication device while driving.

According to the News & Observer, the State Attorney General’s Office has told the town that, because it is a field where the state intends to provide “a complete and integrated regulatory scheme,” local laws addressing cell phone use by drivers are preempted by state law. Therefore, they are unenforceable.

Cochran said the courts may eventually determine local governments’ authority to regulate cell phone use. In the meantime, the intent of local cell phone bans sends a proper message.

“Cell phone use, like other forms of distracted driving, is increasingly blamed in a variety of motor vehicle accidents,” Cochran said. “Political leaders as well as law enforcement officials need to take a stand against it.”

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) said in a 2011 study that about two-thirds of all drivers reported using a cell phone while driving. At least one driver was reported to have been distracted in 15 to 30 percent of car crashes between 2000 and 2011, the GHSA said.

“The limited research on … countermeasures concludes that laws banning hand-held cell phone use reduced use by about half when they were first implemented,” the GHSA said. “Hand-held cell phone use increased subsequently, but the laws appear to have had some long-term effect.”

Cochran said those who suffer serious personal injury or the wrongful death of a loved one in an auto accident attributed to cell phone use by the driver or another type of distracted driving can also take a stand.

“Those who would engage in this kind of reckless behavior should be held accountable,” the Raleigh personal injury attorney said. “And those who are injured because of reckless drivers have a right to seek compensation for their losses and, in some cases, punitive damages through personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

“At Hardison & Cochran, we will continue to stand against reckless drivers and protect the rights of these accident victims.”

About Hardison & Cochran, Attorneys at Law

Hardison & Cochran, Attorneys at Law, is a highly respected North Carolina personal injury, workers’ compensation and Social Security disability law firm with offices in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Dunn, New Bern, Southern Pines and Wilmington. The firm’s practice areas include car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, dog bites, dangerous drugs, defective medical devices, nursing home abuse and negligence and traffic violations. For more information, call the firm toll-free at (800) 434-8399 or use the firm’s online contact form.

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