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Cell phones in school zones

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Cell phones in school zones

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
March 14, 2010


OK, so what's the real deal about using cell phones in school and construction zones while you are driving your car (or SUV or pick-up truck or van or ???)?

You may have seen yesterday's article in the Northwest Herald.

Wonder what the law is? Go to www.illinois.gov/ and look up 625 ILCS 5/12-610.1 (e). Here's what it says:

"(e) A person, regardless of age, may not use a wireless telephone at any time while operating a motor vehicle on a roadway in a school speed zone established under Section 11‑605, or on a highway in a construction or maintenance speed zone established under Section 11‑605.1. This subsection (e) does not apply to (i) a person engaged in a highway construction or maintenance project for which a construction or maintenance speed zone has been established under Section 11‑605.1, (ii) a person using a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, including, but not limited to, law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services agency or entity, (iii) a law enforcement officer or operator of an emergency vehicle when performing the officer's or operator's official duties, or (iv) to a person using a wireless telephone in voice‑activated mode."

Special conditions apply to younger drivers.

What are the key words here?

"while operating a motor vehicle": If you are in a school or work zone and stopped, you'd better make sure your engine is turned off. If you are sitting there (holding your phone) with the engine running, in Park, and with the air on, you might be considered to be "operating" your vehicle. Turn off the engine.

"in voice-activated mode": You'd better not be dialing your phone or even holding it to answer it in a school or work zone.

You can buy a decent hands-free device (ex., Bluetooth) for as little as $30. It's smart to use it all the time.

How many people do you still see who are driving and holding their phones? Just look for the ones turning on red, going through the yellows, craning their necks to see what's coming (and then pulling out in front of an oncoming vehicle).

McHenryCountyRadio.net keeps playing my favorite song. It's Ray Stevens' "Hang up & drive." You can hear it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Shzb_Zzo_8

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