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updated: 5/28/2013 6:16 PM

Lawmakers: No handheld phones while driving

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  • File photo It'll be up to Gov. Pat Quinn to decide whether Illinois drivers are allowed to talk on handheld cellphones while driving.

      File photo It'll be up to Gov. Pat Quinn to decide whether Illinois drivers are allowed to talk on handheld cellphones while driving.

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Pat Quinn will get the final decision on whether people should be allowed to talk on handheld cellphones while driving.

The first ticket for talking on a handheld phone while driving would be a $75 fine. Using a hands-free device would remain legal. The Illinois House approved the measure today and sent it to the governor.

Eliminating the distraction of a phone could lead to safer roads as drivers keep both hands on the wheel, lawmakers said. But critics countered that plenty of other distracting activities -- from eating to smoking and changing the radio station -- remain legal.

State Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, told a story of driving with a Wendy's Frosty in one hand and a cigar in the other.

"If anyone deserved a ticket that day, I'm sure I did for having a Frosty and smoking a cigar with a window open," Franks said.

Still, the wide use of cellphones has drawn the attention of safety-minded lawmakers across the country.

In the past few years, Illinois lawmakers made it illegal to talk on the phone in a school or construction zone, and texting behind the wheel isn't allowed, either.

Quinn already has to decide whether to raise the speed limit on tollways and interstates to 70 mph.

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