Public not buying cell ban while driving

Public not buying cell ban while driving

Illinois' ban on driving while talking on a cellphone is going over like a lead balloon.

It didn't take a genius to predict major enforcement problems when Illinois' ban on driving while talking on a cellphone took effect on Jan. 1.

If there is ever a habit ingrained in the minds of motorists, it is driving while distracted, whether by talking on a cellphone, fiddling with the radio, eating a snack or putting on makeup. Regardless of the consequences, many people don't pay as much attention as they should when behind the wheel, with sometimes catastrophic consequences.

Now the Chicago Tribune is reporting that authorities in Illinois are handing out record numbers of tickets for violations of the cellphone law while not making much progress in reducing the number of violators. State troopers handed out more than 3,000 tickets for cellphone violations between Jan. 1 and April 30, nearly three times the number during the same period in 2013.

The numbers confirm what any alert motorist can see on a daily basis in East Central Illinois. These kinds of violations are so numerous they overwhelm any concerted enforcement effort.

There's no doubt that driving while using a cellphone is a threat to public safety, and most people instinctively know that.

At the same time, people either are unaware of the ban or choose to ignore it for the sake of what they think of as convenience. When or if those habits will change is a matter of speculation, even if enforcement is increased.

We've been skeptical of this kind of traffic law because of the increased enforcement burden it places on authorities as well as the nagging nature of the law that selects one of many kinds of driver distractions to make a traffic offense.

The Legislature, obviously, thought otherwise. Now the state is stuck with a cellphone ban that is widely ignored, a circumstance that can only breed disrespect for the law.

Of course, it took awhile for the public to come to terms with seat belts. Maybe the ban on driving while talking on a cellphone will prove to be a similarly acquired taste. In the meantime, drivers should try to minimize their distractions so they can maximize their and others' safety.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion

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dw wrote on May 14, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Illinois law does NOT prohibit talking on the cellphone! This is highly inaccurate reporting/editorializing! Illinois law requires hands-free cellphone use. And the distinction is that there is no distinction in the distraction factor, only in the monetization: it costs extra to get a good hands free connector, so you must be of a certain class to chat and drive. A class legislators easily fall into!

The take-home lesson is that the research shows that it doesn't matter much whether chatting on the cell phone is done hands free or not: it's still distracted driving. So for THIS reason, the law is useless.

The research also points to driving while on the cell as equivalent to driving drunk:
Spoiler: Myth: CONFIRMED. (though they are using hand-held phones)

Here's the legal text of 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2 "Electronic communication devices"

So the law needs to be strengthenend, not removed.  As far as enforcement, it's a simple matter to check the cell phone records of a person who was involved in an accident and determine whether they were on the phone at the time and levy the fines appropriatly.


j.dexter wrote on May 15, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Actually,  there is a hands free device built in all cell phones and, in most cases, a search warrant is required to conduct a search of a cell phone. This makes it very difficult to enforce in the way you explained as judges and prosecutors will not obtain search warrants for traffic accidents unless they involve a fatality.

On a side note, the number of exemptions written into the cell phone law also makes it very difficult to enforce. It's just not a very well written law to begin with.