Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cell phones in school zones

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 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). keeps playing my favorite song. It's Ray Stevens' "Hang up & drive." You can hear it at


The Madd Bulldog said...

Too many people out there that are unqualified to operate a motorvehicle period; let alone operate while using a phone.
I on the oterhand do a great job of steering with my thigh... beer in one hand, $1.50 Dbl-cheeseburger w/bacon from BK in the other (I dont get the Whopper becuz too much lettuce falls in my lap). DOH!!!!!!

Jeff Kissinger said...

You are incorrect about holding the phone. The statute does not say that you can't hold the phone and does not require that you be hands-free, it just says that you must be using the phone in voice-activated mode. Most phones are in voice-activate mode once powered up and remain that way until powered down. On the iPhone 4 for example, you can hold the phone to your face and press the Home button, speak Call Home, the phone makes the call and you did all of that without taking your eyes off the road. The statutes are meant to keep your eyes on the road not prevent you from holding the phone.