Cell Phone Ban Headed to Governor

A mix of tourists and lobbyists milled about the rotunda of the Illinois Statehouse on Tuesday. (Brian Mackey/WUIS)

A mix of tourists and lobbyists milled about the rotunda of the Illinois Statehouse on Tuesday. (Brian Mackey/WUIS)

The Illinois House gave final approval on Tuesday to a ban on the hand-held use of cell phones behind the wheel. The fate of the idea is now up to Gov. Pat Quinn. The issue had been debated before, but one opponent of the measure had a few new points to make.

Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, decided to recount a long story about a recent stop at a Wendy’s. He ordered a Frosty.

“Now, the problem with the Frosty is when you’re driving and you’re holding the spoon in your right hand and the Frosty in your left, you have to move your hands to bring the ice cream to your mouth,” Franks said.

The story goes on: Franks is smoking a cigar, the window is down, a bee flies in, yada yada yada, until we come to his point, which is: why not make a law banning all distracted driving instead of just holding a phone up to one’s ear?

“I mean, if anyone deserved a ticket that day, I’m sure I did for having a Frosty and smoking a cigar with the window open,” Franks said.

The sponsor says going to town on ice cream with both hands was irresponsible, but talking on a phone held up to one’s ear has been linked to traffic accidents.

“What we’re trying to do is just go back to basics,” says Rep. John D’Amico, D-Chicago. “When you took driver’s ed, when I took driver’s ed, they taught us to keep our hands at ’10 and two,’ not ’10 and with one hand on the phone.’ ”

Under the proposal, it would still be legal to use a speaker-phone, headset or other hands-free device.

Frosty Franks voted against the measure; it nevertheless passed on a vote of 69-48.

— Brian Mackey

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