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Proposed Ban by Chicago on Texting While Driving Gains Steam

October 07, 2008

CHICAGO– A Chicago City Council committee unanimously passed a proposed ban on sending text messages while driving in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. The measure is likely to come up for a final vote at the Oct. 8 council meeting.

The new restriction, which also would cover using wireless devices to browse the Internet, builds on the 2005 rule against talking on handheld cell phones while driving. Violators could face a $75 fine, with the penalty rising to as much as $200 if the violations "occur at the time of a traffic accident."

The ban comes from a council that gained widespread notoriety for banning foie gras from restaurant menus, before reversing that prohibition a few months ago. The proposal's sponsor, Ald. Edward Burke (14th), also once pushed for an ordinance against serving foods with trans fats in chain restaurants.

"I know the arguments against this, that we shouldn't be a nanny state, that we shouldn't be a nanny city," Burke said.

However, he said the value of the plan "really needs no explanation to intelligent people." Burke also raised the possibility of restricting drivers from applying make-up or reading while behind the wheel.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White came to City Hall to speak in favor of the proposal and said he is pushing for a statewide ban on texting while driving. Eight states have done so already, with California's ban approved recently and going into effect on Jan. 1.  

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