Distracted driving, you can’t do both, Hinsdale police chief says
Updated: February 11, 2013 1:56AM
HINSDALE — Police Chief Bradley Bloom wants the village to adopt an ordinance prohibiting distracted driving.
His officers would enforce it only when a driver commits a moving violation while distracted, Bloom said.
The Village Board was scheduled to discuss the idea at its Tuesday meeting.
“My sense is most people don’t realize they are committing violations,” Bloom told the village Zoning and Public Safety Committee Nov. 26. “People get almost tunnel vision when they are talking on a cell phone.”
The ordinance Bloom suggests would prohibit drivers from manipulating all electronic communication devices; as well as reading, writing, “interacting physically with pets or unsecured cargo,” and “personal grooming with any device.”
Distracted drivers regularly drift in their lanes, don’t stop for pedestrians, and delay turning left when they get a left-turn arrow, Bloom said.
“We see it regularly with people talking on their cell phone or checking their email or putting on makeup,” Bloom said.
The state only bans texting and driving, and cell phone use by drivers in a school zone or construction zone.
Bloom believes a local ordinance that links the distraction to careless driving could be more effective because it would show drivers that they do not drive as safely when they are distracted, and the fine would be less.
If a person is convicted of improper lane use or ignoring a stop sign, the fine is $120 and the offense is reported to the Secretary of State, Bloom said. The proposed fine for distracted driving would be $75, and the violation would not be reported to the state.
Some committee members questioned why the police would not issue a ticket to a driver for weaving in their lane or not coming to a complete stop, regardless of whether the driver was talking on a cellular phone or petting their dog.
Bloom said of the 300 or so citations his officers issue every month, only four or five are contested and they are usually for stop sign and lane use violations, and“occasionally a speeding violation.
He expects drivers would be less likely to contest a $75 distracted driving ticket that will not go on their driving record.
Village Trustee Chris Elder does not support the ordinance.
“For me, the definition of distracted driving is just a little broad,” Elder said. “It seems like we are trying to go after distracted driving by piggybacking on tickets we don’t like to write.”