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Cell Phone Ban October 5, 2006

Posted by j-dub in General, News - Local.
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I’m sure you’ve read/heard about this story, but if you haven’t, here is a link.

Illinipundit author, Joan Dykstra, has also posted about this recently.

Urbana Alderman Charlie Smyth is going to propose a cell phone ban for drivers in Urbana. Basically, this is in response to Matt Wilhem’s tragic death in early September.

Let me say this. I understand Mr. Smyth’s concern, and it is a legitimate one. So are eating, reading, talking, singing, and a 100 other things while you are driving. Are we going to police them all? Who’s going to enforce the ban(s)? What’s the casualty rate for every minute of cell-phone usage on the road? Where does all of this stop?

I’m sure millions of people talk on their cell phones while driving each day, and probably for hundreds of millions of minutes each day. I would find it hard to believe that the casualty rates are staggering. Mr. Smyth compares cell phone usage to drunk driving, and while they are similar in that they both delay reactions times, etc; I don’t think that’s a fair or equal comparison.

I commend Smyth’s attempt at being somewhat pro-active, yet reactive at the same time. His son went to High School with Mr. Wilhelm.

Here is some potential language listed in the N-G article:

It would include only limited exceptions, such as for on-duty police officers acting in official capacity when no other means of communications is available; when using a telephone to call 911 in an emergency; and when a vehicle is parked and not in gear.

Use for an emergency makes sense, but once again, how do the police know you are on an emergency phone call? Will they pull you over and ask? If you are it’s okay, and if not you just lie and then he has to prove it in court? Or you are honest and get a ticket. I just don’t see how it will work.

The fine for violating the ordinance would be $75, but if a violation also occurs with a traffic accident, the fine could increase to as much as $200.

Smyth is not proposing to allow hands-free cell phones, as in Chicago, where drivers are otherwise banned from cell phone use.

Personally, I have a hands-free device, and I know I’m less distracted when using it versus holding a phone to my ear. I know there are studies which say you are still distracted, but I’m also distracted when I talk to a passenger in my car. That’s essentially what a hands-free device is like, talking freely while driving.

My favorite quote from the article:

Alderwoman Heather Stevenson, R-Ward 6, had this to say:

“It’s just one more form of nanny government is what it seems like to me,” she said. “I don’t know where it’s going to end.

My sentiments exactly…

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