City Council members in Evanston are considering a proposal that would ban hands-free devices while driving. The ordinance would be one of the toughest cell phone bans in the country, keeping all electronic devices out of driver's hands.
Ald. Jane Grover (7th) sponsored the proposal, which would amend the current city law that allows drivers to only use hands-free devices. Grover was the sponsor of that ordinance as well, which has resulted in almost 3,000 tickets since it was enacted in 2010. According to Grover, the laws aren't tough enough to prevent accidents from distracted driving.
"It's the same level of cognitive impairment whether a driver is using a handheld device or using a hands-free device," she said. "There's really no difference in the risk of crashing."
In December, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a national ban of all electronic devices, especially those that are hands-free. Officials say the level of distraction a driver experiences is the same on a hands-free device as it is on a regular cell phone.
But the ordinance isn't getting unanimous support from the city council. Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) voted against the bill in committee. She said she voted for the current law, but thinks amending it to include all devices would go too far.
"I think it will just lead to ill will between taxpayers and the city government in Evanston because it is unenforceable," Fiske said.
Fiske said she believes creating cell phone bans is the responsibility of the state, not separate municipalities. She said it's less confusing for drivers who travel throughout Illinois. Fiske and her fellow aldermen will be discussing the bill in the coming days, with a vote scheduled for the full city council meeting later this month.
Correction on 03/19/12 at 10:24: An earlier version of this story misspelled Grover.