Last year, a proposal to ban the use of hand-held cell phones by drivers failed to gain traction in the Senate. A new proposal passed the House last week and the Senate will again be asked to consider banning drivers from using hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel. Cell phones have been targeted by safety advocates seeking ways to reduce distracted driving accidents. While the majority of states have banned texting and driving, a complete ban of hand-held devices by drivers would acknowledge that cell phones use is not conducive to safe driving. The ban would allow the use of hand-held devices in the event of an emergency. It would also allow the use of cell phones through hands-free devices.
The sponsor of the bill, Chicago Representative John D’Amico, pointed out that 76 Illinois communities have enacted some form of cell phone restriction. A statewide ban would serve the purpose of unifying the regulations for all drivers in the state. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, nine states currently ban hand-held cell phone use by drivers. A statewide ban could also render enforcement more practical. The current ban on texting can be difficult to enforce as a police officer cannot easily determine whether a driver is dialing a number or texting.
Representative D’Amico was quoted as saying “We want to do everything we can here to try and reduce accidents and fatalities.” Distracted driving has been likened to drunk driving. If passed, the new measure could help change popular opinion about the dangers of combining driving and cell phone use.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Bill would create statewide ban on using cellphone while driving,” by Rafael Guerrero, 2 March 2013