A Publication of WTVP

It first happened to me in O’Hare Airport: a person looked straight at me and started to say “hello” while smiling. My mind raced to place this face with somebody I’m supposed to know. As I begin to respond—while starting to sweat since I can’t place the face—he turned his head, and I saw his hands-free headset for his cell phone. More and more people are using hands-free devices. We see it at the store, in the office, and increasingly on the road.

Experts argue about whether hands-free devices really have improved the safety of drivers. Some feel the intensity of the conversations stay the same, which is a distraction from the road. We do know, however, that some states and even local governments have taken this issue into their own hands. Below is some information on cell phone laws taken from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

• Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia each has enacted a jurisdiction-wide ban on driving while talking on a handheld cellular phone.

• Six states (Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) allow localities to ban cell phone use. Localities that have enacted restrictions on cell phone use include: Chicago; Brookline, Mass.; Detroit, Mich.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Brooklyn, North Olmstead, and Walton Hills, Ohio; and Conshohocken, Lebanon, and West Conshohocken, Penn.

• Eight states (Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah) prohibit localities from banning cell phone use.

• Eleven states (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas) and D.C. prohibit the use of all cellular phones while driving a school bus.

• Eleven states (Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia) and D.C. restrict the use of cellular phones by teens in the graduated licensing system.

• All but four states with cell phone bans have primary enforcement laws. New Jersey’s ban is a secondary enforcement law for everyone except school bus drivers, learner’s permit holders, and intermediate license holders. Colorado, Maryland, and West Virginia have secondary enforcement laws. Secondary enforcement laws may only be enforced when a driver has been stopped for another infraction.

As you take your summer vacations or drive to other municipalities for work, you may want to reference this information to avoid a ticket.
To recap for Illinois: hand-held ban is by jurisdiction. All cell phones are banned for learner’s permit holders, drivers younger than 18, and school bus drivers. However you choose to use your cell phone, try to be safe on the road. IBI