Town makes vehicles 'no cellphone' zones

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Chapel Hill, N.C., is embarking on a social experiment worth watching. It became the first town to pass a total ban on cellphones for motorists. Just in time for Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the law makes even hands-free phones illegal.

"Research shows hands-free devices offer drivers no safety benefit," said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO at the National Safety Council, in a press release. "Passing total cellphone bans -- that include handheld and hands-free use -- makes our roads safer."

More than 30 studies show hands-free devices don't eliminate the distraction. The brain is incapable of processing two demanding thinking tasks -- talking on a cellphone and driving -- simultaneously, the safety council said.

There is no question these devices can cause fatal distractions. But Americans may be so addicted that, much like the failure of Prohibition, we will never be able to put the genie back in the bottle.

But if Chapel Hill's approach provides indisputable evidence that keeping cellphones out of vehicles is a real lifesaver, it may become the next successful "buckle your seatbelt" or "stop smoking" campaign.

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