Have you noticed theses signs popping up around Highland Park, IL? As of June 1st, HP becomes a ”no handheld cellular devices while driving” community.
I’m glad to see this happening. I just cannot believe how many people act like their car is their living room! I see them driving around, phones glued to their ears, often with a cute little dog perched on their lap - apparently oblivious to the fact that they’re piloting a 4,000 pound mass of metal that can be turned into a weapon which will have devastating consequences should it plow into another car, bicyclist, or pedestrian.
As a real estate agent and mom of two active grade-schoolers, it seems that I’m in my car more than my house, and I’m utterly dependent upon my cell phone. I NEVER want to miss a call from a client (or potential client). But I make it a point to pull over when I need to take or make a call or respond to a text message. It’s for everyone’s safety, and an important example to set for my kids – before I know it, they’ll be driving, and I need them to understand that driving and cell phone usage are two activities that do NOT go together.
While Highland Park has had a distracted driving ordinance that can lead to a citation for cell phone use, up until now it’s been a secondary violation requiring a police officer to stop a motorist for another offense, like speeding, before citing the driver.
But as of Wednesday, driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone is a primary offense with a minimum fine of $50 for a first time offense and a maximum penalty of $500 for multiple infractions.
Though it’s a move in the right direction, I was all for Highland Park outlawing use of cell phones completely while driving. Some studies suggest that using a hands free device is no safer than using a handheld phone; anytime your concentration is divided and focusing on multiple different tasks, you’re not going to be able to perform any of them to the best of your ability. In fact, Carnegie Mellon reported that driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.
Also consider the following:
- Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
- The No.1 source of driver inattention is use of a wireless device. (Virginia Tech/NHTSA)
- Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (NHTSA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
- Driving while distracted is a factor in 25 percent of police reported crashes.
So get your Bluetooth fully charged (though I’ve found that the earphones that came with my iPhone work pretty well!), and hopefully Highland Park will be an even safer community to live in starting Wednesday. And, please, put those adorable dogs in the backseat–they’ll be safer, and so will you and all the other drivers on the road.
For information about Highland Park, IL real estate, contact me at 847-652-1902 or Stephanie.Hofman@cbexchange.com.
This post is categorized under Highland Park Happenings, which shares important, worthwhile and fun things going on around Highland Park.