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Talkin on That Hand-Held While Drivin? No, No.

By Rachelle Bowden in News on Apr 6, 2005 12:09PM

2005_04_distracteddriver.jpgHey, next time your heading out to your car don't forget your hand-free listening device. You'll want to practice getting used to wearing it because it may soon be what you'll need to use your cell phone while driving.

The City Council's Traffic Committee advanced a cell phone restriction yesterday. The proposal calls for a $50 fine if you're caught driving while talking on a cell phone in your hand. If you're in an accident while talking on a hand-held cell phone then the fine is increased to $200. The measure still needs to win the approval of the full council to go into effect.

In 2002 a study was done by Harvard that found drivers using cell phones caused 1.5 million accidents annually resulting in 2,600 deaths and 570,000 injuries. But in 2001 a University of Utah study found that just talking, even if both hands are on the wheel and not on your cell phone, caused increased driver distraction. It seems we get a lot done while talking on the phone in our cars. Research shows that banning cell phone us all together while driving would cost $43 billion a year in lost economic activity.

2005_04_earbud.jpgA ton of countries, including Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, and Japan, have restrictions on cell phones while driving. If this ordinance goes through, which it's expected to, Chicago will be the 2nd big US city after DC to approve a ban on hand-held cells while driving. NY state and New Jersey also have statewide bans.

In a Trib poll, 47% of readers favor a allowing only hands-free devices, 35% think there shouuld be a total ban on phone use while driving, and only about 18% think we should just let people do and talk as they please. Chicagoist thinks these 18% are probably the same people who resisted the seat buckling law at first because they were inconvenient or uncomfortable or violated their right NOT to wear them.

For more statistical information on cell phone usage while driving and cities/states/countries who have the laws in place, check this Science Daily article.