Hinsdale passes law to curb distracted driving
Updated: February 18, 2013 1:15AM
HINSDALE — The Village Board voted 4-2 Tuesday to approve an ordinance that prohibits people from driving while distracted, if it results in a moving traffic violation.
“We are not saying it is illegal to talk on a cell phone,” Hinsdale Police Chief Bradley Bloom said. But he frequently sees drivers talking on mobile phones drift out of their lanes, or not wait at stop signs for pedestrians to cross. “It’s dangerous to pedestrians. It’s dangerous to bicyclists, and it’s dangerous to other drivers.”
Some members of the Village Board argued the police already can enforce such moving violations, without linking it to distracted driving.
But Bloom said his officers are reluctant to write tickets for offenses like improper lane use, unless it leads to an accident or an arrest for driving while under the influence.
The ordinance he proposed will be less punitive, as it results in a $75 fine that can be paid without a court date and without notice to the Secretary of State. Bloom’s goal is to educate drivers who cannot drive safely when they are talking on a phone, putting on makeup or changing compact discs.
Under the ordinance, distracted means “manipulating items within the vehicle; reading; writing; performing personal grooming with any device, interacting physically with pets or unsecured cargo” in addition to using a mobile phone or other electronic communication device.
The board agreed to a six month introductory period during which officers who observe distracted drivers commit another offense will only warn the driver and not write a ticket.
Trustees J. Kimberley Angelo and Doug Geoga voted against the ordinance.
Geoga agreed that distracted driving is “a profound issue that affects safety.” However, he said, “I don’t think this is going to encourage people to put down their cell phones.”
Angelo said trying to stop people from multi-tasking while driving because it makes them drive dangerously, is like trying to stop people from snoring while they sleep.
“They insist they don’t,” Angelo said.
“I don’t think the intended effects merit having the ordinance in place,” Angelo said.
But Trustee Robert Saigh was strongly in favor of the ordinance.
“I really view this as a legitimate start,” Saigh said. “This is much more than a matter of law. This is a serious attempt to correct lousy behavior” that has been going on for a long time, he said.~.