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Alderman: Hang Up or Pay Up to $500

By Hunter Clauss in News on Jan 14, 2009 7:20PM

old cell phone.jpg
Man, those were the days.

Motorists chatting away on their cell phones could pay up to $500 under a new ordinance designed to strengthen Chicago’s cell phone ban. Ald. Vi Daley of the Lincoln Park area is pushing to increase fines from $75 to $100 for drivers caught yapping without a hands-free device. Fines for drivers who cause an accident while using a cell phone could increase from $250 to $500.

Daley (no relation to The Boss) told the Sun-Times that she doesn’t believe police aren’t properly enforcing the ban, but downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly shared a more interesting observation. “I might also add that I regularly see city employees operating city vehicles while talking on their cell phones. That practice needs to end immediately. The city needs to lead by example,” he said.

If it were up to the National Safety Council, that day of reckoning may be coming sooner rather than later. The advocacy group announced this week a campaign calling for a national ban on the use of all cell phone devices while driving. After combing through more than 50 studies on the topic, the NSC found that cell phone devices caused an estimated 636,000 crashes, 333,000 injures, and 2,600 deaths a year. The group’s proposed ban goes farther than Chicago’s by including hands-free devices. That’s because a study conducted by the University of Utah found that talking on the devices equates to driving drunk.

With the city and state’s current economic crisis, don’t be too surprised if the next round is on us.

Photo taken from