Driven to distraction in Illinois

August 29, 2013 

Drivers in Illinois who seem to have a cell phone attached to their ear may want to start weaning themselves, because Gov. Pat Quinn just signed a law making it illegal to talk on hand-held phones while driving starting Jan. 1.

It's a controversial law because depending on the statistics, cell phone use is a huge problem that causes crashes, or no worse than other behaviors that distract drivers such as putting on makeup, changing the radio station or eating lunch.

But while not everyone puts on makeup or eats while driving, most people probably have placed a call or worse, read or sent a text message. It's common to see drivers on cell phones not notice a person in a crosswalk or a changing traffic signal. A lot of people will admit to one or two near misses.

Generally, we think motorists should be able to decide for themselves what to do or not do when operating a car and don't need the government dictating behavior. However, this bill is a reasonable compromise. It doesn't take away a person's ability to use a cell phone while driving; drivers can still make call as long as they are made hands-free.

So turn on the speaker. If only there were a hands-free makeup applicator.

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