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View Full Version : Talking on a cell in Chicago could cost you $200



creek14
05-12-2005, 12:26 PM
Put it down or pay up, city warns motorists
Starting July 8, drivers in Chicago who are caught talking on cell phones without hands-free devices face fines of $50 to $200

By Dan Mihalopoulos and John McCormick. Tribune staff reporter Gary Washburn contributed to this report
Tribune staff reporters.
Published May 12, 2005

Believing that cell phones have turned driving into a dangerous contortion act, the Chicago City Council on Wednesday voted to ban motorists from cradling phones in their hands while behind the wheel.

Starting July 8, motorists caught holding their Nokias, Motorolas and other brands to their ears while in motion will face a $50 fine. The penalty will jump to $200 in cases where cell phone conversations cause accidents.

Drivers will still be allowed to gab in their car as long as they use a speakerphone, earbud or other device that allows them to keep both hands on the wheel.

Sprint and Verizon Wireless, two major cellular service providers, opposed the measure, but Mayor Richard Daley said he was for it.

"It's just common sense," Daley said. "You don't want anybody killed or injured. You have enough accidents on the roads of America."

Chicago becomes the second major U.S. city after Washington to approve such a measure. There also are statewide prohibitions against driving while gripping cell phones in New York and New Jersey.

Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) introduced the idea to the council six years ago. He said the push gained backers after tragic incidents triggered by drivers who were holding cell phones to their ears.

Accident victim's son `elated'

A Chicago traffic control aide, Maureen Tarara, was struck and seriously injured last year by a car driven by a woman allegedly on a cell phone. Tarara was disabled.

Tarara's son, who waged a campaign for the ban, said he was "elated" by the council's action, although he wanted the city to forbid all cell phone use in cars, even with ear pieces.

"The fellow that was sitting in back of me [during the council meeting] was the son of the crossing guard that got hit at State and Randolph [Streets]," Natarus told reporters after the vote. "So you tell him ... why we can't pass an ordinance such as this."

Natarus, who has a flair for the dramatic, has taken to constantly wearing a wireless hands-free device in his left ear as he walks about City Hall and at public events around town. The Motorola wireless headset was firmly planted in the veteran alderman's ear throughout Wednesday's meeting.

The vote came without any debate Wednesday after Natarus employed a parliamentary maneuver to pass the ordinance without explicitly mentioning what issue was being considered.

Several foes of the ban cried foul, saying they did not realize what had happened until it was too late. The opponents "were asleep at the switch," said Ald. Edward Burke (14th), who backed the phone ban.

Officially, the vote was recorded as 47-0 in favor of the ban.

Natarus' maneuver enabled him to extract a measure of revenge against critics who held up a vote on the ordinance at the last council meeting in April.

"I tell you what, I've got a sore throat today and I really didn't feel like debating," said Natarus, who has rarely shied from voicing his thoughts--usually at great length--during his 34 years as alderman.

Even if there had been a more straightforward vote, the ordinance would likely have passed. More than 40 of the 50 aldermen had signed on as supporters, and even detractors said they were unlikely to muster more than five or 10 votes against the proposal.

Critics largely came from wards on the edges of the city. Those aldermen said drivers going back and forth across the zigzagging city limits would become confused and could be targeted by police.

"My children attend St. Eugene's," said Ald. Brian Doherty, whose 41st Ward is on the city's Northwest Side. "It is bordered by unincorporated Norwood Park, Norridge, Harwood Heights, Chicago and Park Ridge."

If parents picking up and dropping off their children "cross Foster [Avenue], if they cross Canfield [Avenue], or they cross Touhy [Avenue], they are in a different jurisdiction," Doherty noted. "If they get a ticket for driving on the phone, who do you think is going to get the phone call? I am."

Natarus said he would lobby lawmakers in Springfield to take the ban statewide.

Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) said he uses a hands-free cell phone in his car as a matter of choice but a prohibition on hand-held use "doesn't make a lot of sense."

More problematic than talking on the phone are drivers who simultaneously are taking notes on a dashboard pad of paper, "balancing a cup of coffee on one knee and driving with one hand," Mell said.

Burke and Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th) recently introduced a measure that also would expressly forbid a host of other activities while driving, including "performing personal grooming," reading and eating.

Ample support on the street

An informal survey of Chicagoans on Wednesday found ample support for the council's decision.

Mark Gruen, a Chicago businessman, purchased a wireless headset with a new phone he ordered. "My gearshift always gets tangled up with the cord," he said.

Georgia Giannakopoulos, a pharmaceutical sales representative who spends about 3,000 minutes a month on her cell phone--often while driving--said she supports the ordinance as long as she can continue to use her ear piece. But even with that, she says she is often distracted while driving.

"It's not about the headpiece," she said. "It's about your mental focus, and your mental focus is not the same even with the headpiece."

Brad Jenkins, who works in residential real estate, held his phone in one hand and gripped his steering wheel with the other Wednesday as he drove from Mt. Prospect to the River North neighborhood. But he said he would feel safer in the city when the new ordinance takes effect.

"Every time I almost get hit, it's someone on a cell phone," he said.

But not everyone was supportive of the ordinance.

"It is possible to talk and drive," said Dmitry Bechersky, a Skokie resident who delivers packages in Chicago. "It's not a big deal."

remdog
05-12-2005, 12:36 PM
Good! (Bet you can guess which way I voted. ;) )

There was an example in the Enquirer just a day or two ago of a child's death that was caused because someone was on a cell phone.

Truth is, even on a speaker phone, it's a distraction and I saw a survey somewhere recently that the # 2 or #3 distraction while driving was talking to a passenger----I would liken that to speaking to someone while talking 'hands free'.

I wish the Sate of California would impliment something like this. Lord knows, there are enough problems here with people reading newspapers and putting on makeup but it seems as though when California impliments changes a lot of other states often follow suit.

Rem

Unassisted
05-12-2005, 12:37 PM
I was behind a driver at a traffic light yesterday who was holding a cell phone in her left hand and a cigarette in her right. People who drive like that are the reason I would like to see a law like this.

REDREAD
05-12-2005, 04:34 PM
I saw someone changing their closes while driving last week :lol:

Amazing he couldn't pull into a parking lot for 30 seconds and take care of that.

Roy Tucker
05-12-2005, 04:47 PM
There was an example in the Enquirer just a day or two ago of a child's death that was caused because someone was on a cell phone.

Actually, they were text messaging. Like that's any better.

I was in Kroger pharmacy last night and they have a sign "turn off your cell phone while talking to the pharmacist". It's sad yet not surprising that people have to be told that. The appalling lack of social graces by some people absolutely stuns me.

KronoRed
05-12-2005, 04:49 PM
I saw someone changing their closes while driving last week :lol:

Amazing he couldn't pull into a parking lot for 30 seconds and take care of that.

Just a shirt or the while shabang? :help:

registerthis
05-12-2005, 04:55 PM
I was behind a driver at a traffic light yesterday who was holding a cell phone in her left hand and a cigarette in her right. People who drive like that are the reason I would like to see a law like this.
That's awful! But not so uncommon, I'm afraid. Cell phone drivers are a pox on our roads, be gone with them!

LincolnparkRed
05-12-2005, 04:58 PM
I know one of the big things behind the law passing was a traffic cop being run over downtown by a girl who was talking on her cell phone. After she hit the lady she pulled over to the side of the road and kept talking on her phone never getting out to see how badly she had hurt the cop.

I also remember something on 20/20 or some such show sighting that in studies talking on a cell phone hands free or not was actually more distracting than trying to drive with a BAC of between 0 and .10. Once it got over that than the drinking was more distracting.

creek14
05-12-2005, 05:02 PM
Hey LPR - I use to play softball in Lincoln Park. And what was the trendy 80s restaurant I use to like in L.P.?? It was in the Lettuce Entertain You chain - I forget. It'll come to me.

creek14
05-12-2005, 05:05 PM
R.J. Grunts. That was it.

LincolnparkRed
05-12-2005, 05:07 PM
Hey LPR - I use to play softball in Lincoln Park. And what was the trendy 80s restaurant I use to like in L.P.?? It was in the Lettuce Entertain You chain - I forget. It'll come to me.

It was an 80's themed restaurant, not sure but I think half the restaurants that aren't chains from other cities are now luttuce entertain you.

I actually live in one of the high rises above those softball fields which is great in the summer.

LincolnparkRed
05-12-2005, 05:08 PM
R.J. Grunts. That was it.

I have actually never gone there, it is like 4 blocks away but I just have never gone in

creek14
05-12-2005, 05:11 PM
I have actually never gone there, it is like 4 blocks away but I just have never gone in
I lived in Presidental Towers (before it became a slum).

Yachtzee
05-12-2005, 07:02 PM
Actually, Chicago needs to ban other things as well (things I've actually seen Chicago drivers do while taking cabs/limos to O'Hare/Midway):

The aforementioned reading the paper, make-up, changing clothes
Watching TV - no kidding, actually a guy who had a portable TV wedged onto his dash, watching one of the Judge shows they have on daytime TV.
Putting in eyedrops/contacts
Blackberrying
"Getting busy" - alone and in pairs.
Drinking
Smoking Pot
Knitting

People do crazy stuff while driving in Chicago for sure

Hey LPR, I used to live in Edgewater, up by Rogers Park. Before that I used to crash on my brother's couch in Wicker Park. My wife lived in the Wrigleyville/Boys Town area before we married. You could see the light standards of Wrigley from her front window. Some "interesting" bars in that neighborhood.

I could really go for a slice of Giordano's right now.

dman
05-12-2005, 09:52 PM
I can see the points that people who are for banning the use of cell phones in cars, but something like this could have a farther reaching impact than just cell phones. What if somebody doesn't want to see people smoking in cars? They can try to lobby for legislation that bans lighting up a cigarette in a car under the guise of safety. Or the same could even be said of fiddling with the radio in your car.

LincolnparkRed
05-13-2005, 10:11 AM
Actually, Chicago needs to ban other things as well (things I've actually seen Chicago drivers do while taking cabs/limos to O'Hare/Midway):

Hey LPR, I used to live in Edgewater, up by Rogers Park. Before that I used to crash on my brother's couch in Wicker Park. My wife lived in the Wrigleyville/Boys Town area before we married. You could see the light standards of Wrigley from her front window. Some "interesting" bars in that neighborhood.

I could really go for a slice of Giordano's right now.

How long ago did you live here? The area around wrigley (not boystown)is changing all the time, most of the apartment buildings are being gutted and turned into condos. when you say "interesting bars" I take that to mean places like the manhole (no subtlety there)? Yeah, I find it kinda of funny that 1/4 mile from wrigley is boys town.

Yachtzee
05-13-2005, 11:34 AM
Yep, when we met, my wife lived right around the corner from the Manhole. Don't forget Cocktail and Gay-mart. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I thought it was funny though when we would walk back to her place after a game and overhear a group of drunken frat boys heading toward N. Halsted in search of a "Good Sports Bar." Personally I preferred the Goose Island Brewery on Clark - some great beer there. My wife and her friends always liked Yak-zee's (no relation), because Mark Grace would turn up there after games when he was a Cub.

We moved to Ohio in 2001. Part of the reason being that, with all the apartments getting renovated into condos, living in the city was just getting too expensive. When you're paying almost $1000 for a one bedroom apartment and planing on starting a family, you get a strong desire to move. Plus we thought it would be nice to live closer to family.

ws1990reds
05-13-2005, 03:16 PM
I can see the points that people who are for banning the use of cell phones in cars, but something like this could have a farther reaching impact than just cell phones. What if somebody doesn't want to see people smoking in cars? They can try to lobby for legislation that bans lighting up a cigarette in a car under the guise of safety. Or the same could even be said of fiddling with the radio in your car.

I'm all for it, the smoking ban, of course. Oh, and how about these who sit like they have scoliosis (you know, leaning way back, toward the passenger seat) when driving? :laugh: