By the H&R Editorial Staff
Drivers need to focus on the road and avoid being distracted by other factors.
That includes using your cellphone, eating, fiddling with a radio or electronic music device, correcting the kids in the back seat or any other activity.
It’s good advice when driving to focus on the task at hand. But that doesn’t mean we need a law for each and every possible driving distraction.
That’s why a move to completely ban the use of cellphones while driving in Illinois is well-intended but unnecessary. Rep. Karen May,
D-Highland Park, has filed legislation that would ban the use of most cellphones while driving. May’s legislation would allow the use of hands-free devices while operating a vehicle. But she admits that the ultimate goal is to ban the use of any cellphone while in the car. “I view this as just moving the ball down the court.”
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Illinois currently has a partial ban on cellphone use while driving. State law prohibits drivers 18 and younger from using cellphones with or without hands-free devices. Illinois also prohibits all drivers from using cellphones while driving through a school zone or highway construction. That’s enough state interference.
No reasonable person would argue that using a cellphone while driving is a good idea. The Illinois Department of Transportation says cellphone distractions were the cause of more than 500 crashes in Illinois during the first half of 2010. The number may be larger, since police currently aren’t required to list cellphone use as a possible cause. There are no statistics on how many accidents are caused by other sorts of distractions.
The advice is clear. Put away your cellphone while driving. We’d also suggest drivers refrain from other distractions. We’ve seen drivers applying makeup, shaving and even reading while driving. We’d also advise that motorcycle riders over the age of 18 wear helmets at all times. But there’s no law proposed to address that issue.
Legislators need to learn that laws won’t replace common sense. It’s impossible, and possibly dangerous, to try to legislate every part of our lives. There are already adequate laws that can punish drivers who are involved in accidents because they were distracted. Why do we need to add another one?
Banning cellphones while driving is unneeded and unwanted. May believes her legislation has a chance to pass. Illinois citizens should hope legislators understand there is no need for another useless law.