Evanston aldermen Monday voted to ban drivers from using cell phones except with a hands-free device.

The measure, proposed by Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, was approved by the Human Services Committee earlier this month.

Evanston aldermen Monday voted to ban drivers from using cell phones except with a hands-free device.

The measure, proposed by Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, was approved by the Human Services Committee earlier this month.

The new ordinance, subject to a final vote at the council’s next meeting, would bring Evanston’s cell phone rules in line with those already in place in Chicago.

The ordinance was supported at Monday’s meeting by two representatives of local bicycle groups, who said distracted driving by cell phone users poses a major safety threat to cyclists, pedestrians and other motorists. No one spoke in opposition to it.

Government workers and persons dialing 911 would be exempt from the ban, and it would still be legal for a driver to use a cell phone in a parked car.

The text of the ordinance is available online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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8 Comments

  1. New Laws—How do/should residents know
    The ban on cell phones when driving is long overdue.

    However how do people learn about all the new laws the city state pass ? As I recall it use to be something like they had to published in two widely circulated papers, X days before they become the law.
    Fewer people read print papers anymore, the Evanston Review has become more and more regional and not Evanston oriented and I don’t recall seeing notices in it or the Roundtable—or they were not where most would notice them. Even state laws like the carbon monoxide alarms still surprise people when they hear about it—2+ years after being passed.

    E.g. EvanstonNow had a lot of discussion about the law that Condo Boards had to notify the city about rental units. But I never heard if it passed, effective dates, etc.. If fact I never heard that there was already a law about owners notifying the city and paying a fee for rental units. Discussion may occur but then the passage and implementation just seems to fall off the cliff.

  2. Comment on size of fine
    A $50.00 fine is not, in my opinion, sufficient to significantly change a cell-phone user’s awareness or behavior. If the Council wanted to show me that they truly understood the risks of driving while talking on a phone, and that they truly wanted to protect those at risk, then a fine of $250 or $500 would adequately reflect that understanding. If a driver can’t afford to pay the fine, then, “No phone for you!”

    1. Understanding Cell Phone Use
      If the City Council “truly understood the risks of driving while talking on a phone, and that they truly wanted to protect those at risk” they would have banned all cell phone use, not just those with hand-held devices. It is the use of cellphones that causes the distraction not using a device itself:

      NHTSA estimates that driver distraction contributes to about 25 percent of all traffic crashes. … A significant body of research worldwide indicates that both hand-held and hands-free cell phones increase the risk of a crash. Indeed, research has demonstrated that there is little, if any, difference between the use of hand-held and hands-free phones in contributing to the risk of driving while distracted. In either operational mode, we have found that the cognitive distraction is significant enough to degrade a driver’s performance. We recommend that drivers not use these devices when driving, except in an emergency.

      Slate: Driving While Interrogated How to stop cell-phone use behind the wheel.

      1. Talk on phone in car and lose your car
        A news story several months ago reported that in Canada the fines for talking on a cell phone were much higher than in the U.S.. In one city, I think Toronto, after only a couple of tickets, they can conficate your car !

  3. Still not effecttive
    While the city wants to put up cameras, they still have not even been able to stop driving while texting or on cell phones. Why do we think camera will be more effective in reducing crime ?
    Every day I see 2+ drivers [supposedly “upstanding citizens”] on their cell phones while driving. Has the city not put up notices [laws without proper notification are a farce] or police ticketed enough people that word gets around ?
    Criminals will be devious and avoid cameras—they could not care less about the laws, just as residents flaunt cell phone laws.

  4. my informal survey of cellphone use while driving

    After seeing people talking on cellphones while driving, I decided to do my own research on how many do this.

    At 2PM today, Friday, I set up my camcorder on a tripod looking at the intersection of Green Bay Road and Central Street. I set the camera to overexpose so that I could clearly see the drivers, used lots of zoom and let the camera roll for an hour.

    Went home, plugged the cam into my flat screen and begin counting those holding a phone and those not. There were several talking all by themselves but I didn’t count them.

    The results – about 7.5% of the drivers I saw were on a hand-held cellphone (I counted truck and bus drivers too). It was remarkable how consistent this was. For about every ten drivers I would count, along would come someone on the phone. After going through 200 observations, I figured the percentage would be unlikely to change significantly.

    It might be interesting to do this again in a year or so.

    1. Government workers talking on their cellphones while driving

      Clif, most likely those on the cell phones were government workers, council members or the mayor.

      You see, when the city enacted the ban on cell phones while driving, they exempted government employees and elected officials because allegedly they need to conduct business while driving, and that means gabbing on the cell phone.

      And I suppose they think they’re safer drivers and better equipped to handle the cell phone and vehicle at the same time as the rest of us peasants. Afterall Clif, there is no need for a government worker or elected official to PULL OVER AND MAKE A CALL!  

      Just sayin.

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