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Driver cell phone limits backed

The Evanston City Council’s Human Services Committee Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of banning driving while holding a cell phone.

The ordinance, proposed by Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, would bring Evanston’s rules in line with those already in place in Chicago.

The Evanston City Council’s Human Services Committee Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of banning driving while holding a cell phone.

The ordinance, proposed by Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, would bring Evanston’s rules in line with those already in place in Chicago.

Grover and several representatives of the Evanston Bicycle Club said the ban is needed to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving.

A new state law bans texting while driving. The city ordinance would ban that, as well as web browsing or listening to voice mail.

The city ordinance would permit drivers to talk on the phone while driving if they used a hands-free device.

Grover said she’d like to see that banned as well — based on studies suggesting that use of hands-free devices doesn’t actually reduce the risk of distracted driving.

It was not entirely clear from discussion at the council meeting why the ordinance wasn’t drafted to include such a ban.

The ordinance exempts work-related calls by government officials from the ban and would permit anyone to make a 911 call while driving. Using a cell phone in a parked car would not be banned.

The ordinance calls for a $50 fine, with an added $200 penalty if the violation occurs at the time of a traffic accident.

With a majority of the city’s nine aldermen voting at the committee meeting, it appears the measure is likely to be adopted when the full city council reviews it later this month.

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