SPRINGFIELD — Illinois wants to go a step further in addressing the causes of distracted driving in the age of ubiquitous mobile phone use.

By Anthony Brino

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois wants to go a step further in addressing the causes of distracted driving in the age of ubiquitous mobile phone use.

State Rep. John D’Amico, D-Chicago, is sponsoring House Bill 3972 that would ban hand-held cell phone use while a person is driving, but allow the driver to use speakerphones and wireless devices. The bill would lobby fines of $75 for first-time violators and $150 after the fourth violation.

“At least with hands-free, you can have your second hand on the wheel,” D’Amico said.

“I remember seeing people driving with a coffee and doughnut in each hand and steering with their knees,” said state Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, who supports D’Amico’s bill. “There are distractions everywhere, but cell phones have become so pervasive, it’s clearly a public safety issue.”

Illinois law prohibits texting while driving as well as hand-held cell phone use in school zones and in most highway construction zones.

Since January 2010 in Illinois, 1,500 people have been convicted of texting while driving and 5,000 people have been convicted of using a hand-held cell phone in a school or construction zone, said Henry Haupt, a spokesman for the Illinois Secretary of State.

However, state Sen. John Millner, R-Bloomingdale, said the real issue is people who are distracted and driving recklessly.

“Some people can drive just fine while talking on the phone,” he said. “Others can’t, and they know who they are.”

Millner’s bill, Senate Bill 3537, would let drivers decide whether they can drive safely and talk on the phone. The bill would allow law enforcement to issue “distracted driving” violations for breaking traffic rules, such as citations and fines.

The bill banning hand-held cell phone use could create a problem for delivery drivers like Jeremy Bradley, who works for Dimaggio Pizza in Christopher, a small town north of Carbondale.

“A lot of times I’m calling to say I’m coming or check directions as I drive,” said Bradley. “I think they should keep businesses in mind.”

Join the Conversation


  1. Banning cell phones while driving

    Chicago already has a ban on use of hand-held phones. See article:


    That seems like a good idea, so people keep two hands on the wheel. But the proposed state-wide ban would up the ante from a ticketable offense to a MOVING VIOLATION, which seems like more than necessary as a deterrent. Should make it a ticketable offense, but up that to a moving violation if in the context of a traffic accident. On the other hand, no law will work if there isn't enforcement. I see drivers talking on hand-held phones all the time. And contrary to the quote in your Evanston Now article, I don't think distracted drivers "know who they are." That's the whole point of being distracted – you're not aware. People always tend to think it's someone else who is impaired, never themselves. Not just with cell phones.

    1. Moving Violation

      I actually like the idea of making it a moving violation, because tickets for cell phone use are about safety, not tax revenue. I don't like the idea that someone who can afford to pay $50, $100 a pop because they're only caught every six months on the cell phone but they "need" to use it every day in the car do so, and then they're not punished for their unsafe behavior. 

      The whole idea around banning cell phone use while driving is about safety. Maybe making a new category of moving violation so that it requires two times being caught with a cell phone while driving adds up to one regular moving violation would be fair, but I don't like revenue schemes based on people's bad behavior. 

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