Potential bad news for drivers who just can’t put down the phone

Turns out that the Traffic Control and Safety committee, in between voting to set up some residential disabled parking signs and make some more meters on Clark Street “at any time,” might have some more interesting things for us: Ald. Burton Natarus, 42nd Ward, proposed to ban operating a motor vehicle and using a cell phone without a handsfree kit, and the proposal passed the committee. It’ll come up in this week’s City Council meeting for discussion.

For the details, check out today’s agenda, in particular the last two pages (Appendix 2). The good bits:


SECTION 1. Chapter 9-40 of the Municipal Code of Chicago is hereby amended by adding a new Section 9-40-260, as follows:

Section 9-40-260 Use of Mobile Telephones

(a) Except as provided by subsection (b) of this section, no person shall drive a motor vehicle while using a mobile, cellular, analog wireless or digital telephone.

(b) The provisions of the ordinance shall not apply to:

    (1) Law enforcement officers and operators of emergency vehicles when on duty and acting in their official capabilities.
    (2) Persons using a telephone with a “hands free” device allowing the driver to talk into and listen to the other party without the use of hands.
    (3) Persons using a telephone to call 911 telephone numbers or other emergency telephone numbers to contact public safety forces.
    (4) Person using a telephone while maintaining a motor vehicle in a stationary parked position, and not in gear.

(c) Any person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be subject to a fine of fifty dollars ($50), provided however, that if a violation occurs at the time of a traffic accident, the driver may be subject to an additional fine not to exceed two hundred dollars ($200).

I can’t say I’m upset by this in the least — pretty much exactly the opposite. As a manual-transmission driver by preference, I don’t use my phone and drive anyways. And as a pedestrian and bicyclist, I’m sick of having people damn near kill me because they can’t be bothered to watch the road or apply the brakes. Seems like they could’ve gotten a little more serious with the fine, though. I mean, seriously, I think every parking ticket I’ve gotten since, like, ever has been more than fifty lousy bucks.

So, stay tuned. I imagine this one’s going to be fun to watch folks fight over.

3 Comments so far

  1. nikkos (unregistered) on April 4th, 2005 @ 4:32 pm

    What a load of bullshit. The City of Chicago doesn’t have more important things to worry about?

  2. tankboy (unregistered) on April 4th, 2005 @ 5:15 pm

    Considering how many times I’ve almost been run off the road I’d have to say no, this is just the sort of thing the City of Chicago SHOULD be worrying about.

    Personally I endorse a state-wide ban!

  3. nikkos (unregistered) on April 5th, 2005 @ 2:00 pm

    When you refer to the number of times you have been nearly run off the road, are you referring to incidents where you were driving a car or riding a bicycle?

    The cops already have enough reasons (excuses) for pulling someone over- why give them another one?

    Isn’s this the kind of problem that some sensible dialogue and/or awareness raising could possibly solve, instead of just lunging for the nearest piece of legislation?

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