Chapel Hill considers cell phone petition
By Susan Dickson
CHAPEL HILL – At the request of a woman who was seriously injured in a car accident last September, the Chapel Hill Town Council voted unanimously on Monday to consider a petition that would ban the use of cell phones while driving a car in town.
Krista Slough, then a student at UNC, was walking to class along Coolidge Street when she was struck by a car whose driver a witness alleges was talking on a cell phone.
“It took one instant to completely change the course of my life,” she said.
Slough described how a brain hemorrhage sustained in the accident forced her to drop out of school before she would have graduated in May.
Joe Capowski, a Coolidge Street resident who witnessed the accident, joined Slough in petitioning the council, citing studies from the UNC Highway Safety Research Center that show that using a cell phone while driving carries the same risk as driving with a 0.10 blood alcohol level.
Robert Sasser, the attorney for the driver of the car, said his client was not using a cell phone when she hit Slough and that cell phone records show her first call at 20 minutes after the accident. Sasser said his client does not oppose the petition, but does not want to be “the lightning rod for this.”
Council member Penny Rich pointed out that in February 2010 she raised a petition to ban cell phone use while driving. The council decided to postpone the measure while waiting on a report from the N.C. General Assembly, which was considering restricting cell phone use while driving but has not acted on the matter.