Safety Advocates Want Tougher Cell Phone Laws For Drivers

May 30, 2013

A bill sitting on the governor’s desk would ban Illinois drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. The measure would still allow motorists to use hands free devices. But some want a law restricting that option as well.

If the governor signs the hand held cell-phone ban, Illinois would join 11 other states that prohibit the practice for drivers. Opponents of the measure say it goes too far, while adding that there are many other forms of distracted driving that don’t receive any scrutiny.

Meanwhile, groups like the National Safety Council say it doesn’t go far enough. The council’s Dave Teater says it’s a worthwhile effort to make the roads safer.

But he says past research, including a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, has indicated there’s really no difference between drivers who used hand-held cell phones and those who used hands-free devices.

“It is somebody trying to do two cognitively demanding or attention requiring tasks at the same time, and the human brain just can’t do that” Teater said.

Teater says his group is confident that a state, or a large city, will take steps in the near future to ban hands-free devices.

Others hope that car manufacturers can advance technology that would address driver distraction. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says it's an issue companies are becoming increasingly aware of and are trying to map out solutions.