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.