January 5, 2010
By BOB SEIDENBERG email@example.com
Evanston would follow suit with Chicago and ban the use of a cellular telephone while driving unless done “hands-free” under a proposal that moved forward Tuesday night.
Members of the City Council’s Human Services Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of the ordinance. The proposal now goes to the full City Council, which has the final say.
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, proposed that the city consider the move, going beyond recent state laws that went into effect Friday.
The new state legislation bans the use of a cell phone for texting while driving and prohibits their use in construction and school zones.
Grover said as a runner and cyclist, she has had “a lot of near misses,” almost getting struck by drivers — a lot of them involving cell phones. She noted the recent state legislation, and said she sought “to make our ordinance more seamless with Chicago’s” and send a message that pedestrians and cyclists “deserve a place where we are going to minimize distracted driving.”
Grover received support from a handful of speakers, some of them members of the Evanston Bicycle Club, who went even farther than the Evanston proposal, supporting a full ban on cell phone use while driving.
Members presented statistics demonstrating the greater risk of injury and death from drivers using cell phones.
Ben Schapiro, a resident of south Evanston and an avid cyclist, told the committee he frequently rides around the city and said he couldn’t estimate “the number of times that I’ve nearly been hit on my bike because people didn’t see me, because they were talking on their cell phones.”