Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ban on hand-held cellphones while driving heads to Quinn

By Meredith Colias

Cellphone-loving drivers may soon need to dial down their usage while on the road. Hoping to keep more eyes on the road, the Illinois House is sending legislation to the governor restricting additional types of cellphone usage while driving.

House Bill 1247 would only allow drivers to dial a single button on their phones to call someone. They then would have to use the speaker or a Bluetooth device on a call while they are driving. The state already bans texting while driving.

The House adopted Senate changes giving drivers a break for the first time they are caught using their phone in a prohibited manner before it is added to their driving record and reported to their insurance company. For drivers unable to curb their handheld habits, the fines would gradually increase each time they are caught. The first offense is a $75 fine and it would increase up to $150 fee on the fourth offense.

Opponents have criticized the bill, saying it was an overreach that would go too far in legislating personal habits. They say the bill would be an ineffective way to curb distractions and too difficult to enforce on the road. Marengo Democratic Rep. Jack Franks said that driving with a Wendy’s Frosty is “more distracting than simply being on my cellphone.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Pat Quinn has said Quinn is reviewing the bill.


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