A driver who zooms down the road with one hand on the wheel and the other propping a cellphone against an ear soon could find that choice a costly one — a new state law taking effect Wednesday bans the use of hand-held devices while driving in Illinois.
Motorists still can chat and drive, but only if they use hands-free technology such as a Bluetooth device, earpiece, headset or speakerphone. Otherwise, they’ll need to put it in park or face fines that start at $75. A handful of towns, including Park Ridge, will issue warnings for the first few weeks of the year, but state police say they’ll offer no such grace period.
“It’s a change in behavior that we are all going to have to get used to,” said state Sen. John Mulroe, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the measure. “But it wasn’t too long ago that we didn’t even have cellphones, so this might actually make your life a little more enjoyable. Hang up, and enjoy the ride.”
It’s the latest driving safety push in Illinois, where ad campaigns remind drivers to “Click It or Ticket” and to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” There’s no catchphrase associated with the cellphone driving ban, but give safety advocates some time.