Text and drive? Where you could get a phone cradle instead of a ticket
Talking or texting on the phone would normally get you a $120 ticket in one Northwest suburban town, but starting this weekend, you could get a cellphone cradle and warning from police instead.
Beginning Friday, Arlington Heights police who spot drivers using their phones while driving will pull over vehicles and hand out the magnetic cradles, upon which cellphones of any size can be placed. The cradles have prongs that can be attached to car air vents, allowing for hands-free driving.
"Citations can still be issued, but this is another option officers have," Sgt. Ed Commers said. "We're trying to educate the public on the dangers of distracted driving."
The police department's "Cradle Your Distraction" program runs through Nov. 1, as part of its Halloween traffic safety campaign. Police plan a similar effort around Christmas.
The department is partnering with Napleton Auto Group, which purchased 2,000 cradles. Police formally kicked off the campaign Monday at a news conference at Napleton Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on Dundee Road in Arlington Heights. The department is also publicizing the campaign on Arlington International Racecourse's billboard near Route 53.
Along with the cradle, drivers will receive a business card-sized placard that says use of a cellphone while driving increases the chance of getting into a crash by 400 percent.
While any police officer in town can stop a driver for distracted driving, officers in the department's traffic bureau will be especially focused on it during particular hours of the day.
The bureau -- composed of three officers, a sergeant and a commander -- was recognized for helping the police department receive the Clayton J. Hall Memorial Award in October 2016 from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The award is given to the law enforcement agency judged to have the most comprehensive traffic safety program in the nation.
Arlington Heights police have issued more than 3,000 citations during the past two years for using an electronic communication device while driving.
Drivers don't have to get pulled over by police to get one of the cradles. Douglas Adams, Napleton's customer relations manager, said the dealership has extra cradles; just call (847) 298-0900.