TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Illinois Town May Outlaw Distracted Driving

Illinois Town May Outlaw Distracted Driving

ABC News Wire (
Sat, 18 Mar 2006 16:53:14 -0600

Putting On Makeup and Talking on the Phone Would Be Illegal

March 18, 2006 -- Drinking a latte, talking on the phone or even
turning around to discipline the kids while driving could soon be a
crime in Winnetka, Ill.

Violators would pay up to $750 in fines.

$750 for "coffee and looking back at your children?" said Alberto
Paracchini, a Winnetka resident. "That sounds a bit extreme to me."

Jenny Cleary, a mother of three, including 2-year-old twins, said
avoiding distraction with a car full of kids seems impossible.

"I'm drinking a cup of coffee, yelling to sit down get in your car
seat, stop fighting . all those different things at one time," she
said. "But I don't really think it distracts from my driving."

The police chief who drew up the proposal would argue otherwise.

"What I'm advocating," Police Chief Joseph De Lopez said, "is making
the public more aware of their responsibility to be attentive drivers
-- to minimize the danger they pose to themselves and others when
they're driving."

Distracted drivers cause an estimated 1.2 million accidents a year. In
fact, 46 percent of drivers surveyed by the American Automobile
Association admitted to putting on make up, shaving or doing some sort
of personal grooming behind the wheel. Seventy-one percent said they
eat or drink and 92 percent said they fiddle with the radio. Yet the
cell phone is the main culprit.

Laws Across the Country

At least 17 states have laws that restrict the use of handheld cell
phones behind the wheel, but studies show that has done little to
reduce the accidents.

"We try to advocate that motorists use common sense," said Kris Lathan
of AAA. "Necessarily having two hands on the wheel doesn't matter if
your mind's not on the road."

That is why Connecticut, the District of Columbia and New Hampshire
fine drivers for other distractions that lead to a crash.

Town leaders in Winnetka are still talking about whether they could
enforce such a law. If nothing else, this proposal gives drivers cause
to think about what they're not thinking about when they're on the

Copyright 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures

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