State House OK’s Bill Banning Cell Phone Use While Driving

By in Uncategorized on March 2, 2013

By Kim Bellware

Illinois could soon join the ranks of 10 other states that ban motorists from hand-held cell phone use while driving.

Late Friday evening, the State House approved a the bill in a 64-46 vote that moves the bill to the state Senate for consideration, reports NBC Chicago.

“A hand-held cellphone is a huge distraction while driving a car,” said Rep. John D’Amico, a Chicago Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, according to NBC.

Under the proposed law, drivers caught talking on a phone while driving could be stopped and ticketed by police, reports CBS Chicago; three violations in a year could mean a revoked license for drivers caught flouting the law. Hands-free options like Bluetooth devices, speakerphones are safe under the bill, which also makes exceptions for two-way mobile radios, and for using a cell phone in a emergency.

Though the law is proposed as a safety measure, opponents aren’t short on arguments against it.

Rep. Mike Bost, a Murphysboro Republican, likened the proposed ban to an Orwellian “Big Brother” crackdown, reports the Tribune, while others say the bill is unfair to people with hearing problems and low-income drivers who can’t afford the technology that would remain legal.

Glenview Democrat Laura Fine had a different — and poignant — take, according the Tribune. The lawmaker’s husband lost an arm in a crash caused by a distracted driver and told the House, “A phone call is not that important. If your family is impacted by a distracted driver, it is devastating.”

House Bill 2417 is a re-run of a similar bill died in the State Senate last year, though Illinois lawmakers did successfully ban texting while driving back in 2009.

In 2012, the state also enacted a law banning drivers’ cell phones within 500 feet of an emergency scene, and construction or school speed zones.

Talking on a cell phone while driving is a distant memory for Chicagoans since 2005, while WGN reports 75 other communities in the state have bans on talking on the phone while driving, as well.

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