City Ordinance to Ban Hand-held Cell Phones while Driving Takes Effect March 15th EVANSTON, IL –
The Evanston City Council recently passed an ordinance making it illegal to speak on a hand-held cell phone while driving. Drivers, as of March 15th, 2010, will now be required to use a hands-free device in a public safety effort to curtail distracted driving. The ordinance was put forth by 7th Ward Alderman Jane Grover
“The data shows that distracted driving, using a cell phone while driving, quadruples the risk of an accident,” explained Grover. “The ordinance will help reduce that risk in Evanston. When drivers try to manage their phone and their car at the same time, safety always looses out.”
As of the first of the year, Illinois law now bans texting while driving. The City's new ordinance also bans texting while driving but additionally prohibits web browsing or listening to voice mail while driving. The City ordinance permits drivers to talk on the phone while driving if they use a hands-free device.
The City ordinance calls for a $50 fine, with an added $200 penalty if the violation occurs at the time of a traffic accident.
The City ordinance exempts work-related calls by government officials from the ban and permits anyone to make a 9-1-1 call while driving. Also, using a cell phone in a parked car is not banned.
“This new ordinance puts Evanston in line with a handful of other Illinois communities that have banned the use of hand held devices while driving,” said Grover. “All Evanston residents support increased safety on our streets, whether they are in a car, on a bike, or walking across a street.”
Evanston Bicycle Club President, James Heller along with Lina Hoffman and Dan Persky of the Active Transportation Alliance provided expertise on the issue of distracted driving and supported the ordinance according to Grover.
Some alternative suggestions to avoid talking on the phone while behind the wheel:
• Make your calls before you pull out of a parking space, driveway or garage;
• If there is a passenger in the car, let them handle calls;
• Leave your phone in your purse or pocket when driving;
• Turn off the phone in the car so you are not tempted to answer it;
• Pull over to make/receive calls; and
• Plan ahead to avoid the need to be on the phone while driving.