Illinois Considers Ban on All Cellphone Use While Driving

According to Fox News, a statewide ban on operating a motor vehicle while using a handheld cellphone has been proposed in the Illinois House of Representatives. State Rep. John D'Amico, D-Chicago, has proposed the bill that would make holding a cellphone, specifically to make calls, illegal and would require the use of headsets or other hands-free systems if drivers want to talk on their phone.

Driving while holding a cellphone is illegal in Chicago and the suburbs of Evanston and Highland Park. Here are some statistics about cellphone driving and efforts to reduce this safety hazard:

* ABC Local reported that Illinois' ban on texting while driving, which includes sending and reading texts, went into effect on Jan. 1, 2010, and stood alongside a ban on all handheld cellphone conversations while driving through construction and school and school zones.

* The texting ban also includes strict penalties resulting in marks against a driver's record with three marks leading to a suspended driver's license in addition to fines ranging from $75 to $150.

* Statistics collected from Nationwide indicate that distraction from a cellphone while driving impairs a driver's reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, the legal limit.

* The No. 1 source of driver distraction is the use of a wireless device and people operating a motor vehicle while using cellphones are four times as likely to get into serious enough crashes to injure themselves.

* In 2010, Chicago Police Department officers issued 23,393 tickets for using a mobile device while driving, which was the highest number of tickets handed out in a single year for the offense and in total the tickets brought the city $2.2 million in revenue, noted the Chicago Tribune.

* The Windy City has become more proactive about issuing tickets to drivers violating the cellphone ban and the tickets, notorious for being extremely hard to fight, come with $500 fines.

* On Jan. 1, 2010, Illinois also adopted a law against using a cellphone in both school zones and construction zones as a way to decrease traffic accidents in these areas, according to the Journal Star.

* Talking or texting on a cellphone while driving through these restricted zones faces an automatic $74 ticket even when pedestrians or construction workers are not present.

* The Chicago Sun-Times added the Chicago City Council also passed an ordinance in October prohibiting bicycle riders from texting and talking on the phone while riding and fines range from $20 to $500 depending on the offense and if it also involves a traffic accident.

* The purpose of the cellphone ban for bicycle riders was to level the playing between riders and other motorists while also aiming to keep city streets safer.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.