Friday, May 29, 2009

Texting bans head to the governor

By Hilary Russell
Drivers would be banned from texting while driving if Gov. Pat Quinn signs HB 71 into law. It passed both chambers, most recently in the House by a vote of 96-25. Quinn has 60 days to approve or veto it before it automatically becomes law.

Rep. John D’Amico, a Chicago Democrat, sponsored HB 71, which prohibits the use of cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), portable computers or any device that allows users to write, read and send an electronic message.

The bill does, however, exclude global positioning devices built into cars, as long as the devices are used only for getting directions. The bill also excludes law enforcement, emergency vehicle operators and drivers reporting emergencies. Commercial vehicle drivers also would be allowed to use electronic devices, provided they’re no larger than 10 inches by 10 inches.

Drivers also could use electronic devices as long as they are hands-free or voice-activated. And they could still pull over and text while parked on the side of the road.

Cell phones banned in school and construction zones
Another bill that passed both chambers would ban the use of cell phones in school speed zones and construction zones. The House approved HB 72 by a vote of 96-21.

The bill, also sponsored by D’Amico, would allow construction workers to use wireless phones. And using cell phones during emergencies would be exempt from the ban.

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