No more texting while driving in Oak Park?

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Sick of driving 10 mph down a busy street while the person you’re tailgating types “LOL” or “OMG” into their cellphone? Well the Village of Oak Park agrees.

The law department at Oak Park Village Hall hopes to soon start crafting an ordinance that would ban texting while driving locally, according to interim Village Attorney Simone Boutet. The state already prohibits the practice, but the local ordinance would add emphasis and allow the village to write tickets.

It’s too early to say how the ordinance wording might read, according to Boutet, but she plans to talk to other communities that already have such laws to figure out Oak Park’s. Boutet hopes to start crafting the new law in August.

Reader Comments

29 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Fred Wheat from Oak Park  

Posted: July 29th, 2011 2:32 PM

Kudos to the Village Board! I always pull off to the side of the road, whether it be to text, answer an email, or open another can of beer.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 29th, 2011 12:05 PM

I'm for this ordinance but please don't put up signs around the Village to inform drivers of the ban. Someone recently commented on what they perceived as a glut of signs posted throughout Oak Park. They were described as "eye pollution". Good call!

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: July 28th, 2011 11:56 AM

Getting back to the topic of this story...1) I find it so telling that two lawyers can't even agree on what the law says; 2) Can we also address pedestrians texting while crossing the street? Gee whiz people. But as my husband often says, "You can't legislate common sense."

Jason from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 8:42 PM

Hey Mr. Pope, if you want to do something to make our village safer I have an idea. Start with doing something about the violent crime here in Oak Park. I know you say overall crime is down, but the crime that can ruin your life is up. Violent crime is high here in Oak Park. This is a fact and no amount of spin can change this. We have more violent crime than most resident realize. My wife wants to move because she doesn't feel safe, and it's not because she fears some texting accident.

Editor from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 7:21 PM

Mr. Pope. Problem solved. Why waste time in meeting to talk about doing something to only adjourn to meet another time to talk more about it, until someone says they will start drafting something, then meeting to find out how much was drafted, and waste more time. Chicago doesn't allow talking on a cell phone unless it's hands free. What can be any easier than asking them?

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 4:49 PM

Although it's not addressed in the article above, we're also looking at regulations or outrihgt restriction of cell phone usage by drivers(which is not addressed in state law). Independent of any comments below, this initiative is entirely about enhancing public safety (Evanston's review of these same issues determined that use of such electronic devices presented an even greater danger than DUIs).

Citizen  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 3:02 PM

This is why I voted for Adam and not Tom. No offense Tom.

Editor from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 3:01 PM

Take Tom's advice because I don't know anyone who thinks you can legally text while driving in the State of Illinois, on any roadway, Highway, street, alley or any other surface that you can drive a vehicle on, other than private property.

Tom (Attorney) from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 2:45 PM

Also, this is all a moot point because the Illinois House has almost a dozen new texting related bills in play right now. By January of 2012 we can expect many new and strict texting bills to become Illinois law. Save your energy at OP Village Hall for something more productive. Our state lawmakers are already on top of things. We don't need duplication. I know that is what lawyers and politicians do, but let's pass on this one.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 2:42 PM

Yes, but that law is a subsection of the chapter in the Vehicle Code, which states in its "scope and effect" section that only "highways" are covered unless otherwise specified. There is no specific exception to the "highway rule" in the state text messaging law. Other municipalities in our state are adopting text messaging ordinances for this reason. Finally, our Village Code states expressly which provisions of the Illinois Vehicle Code we have adopted. The text ban isn't included.

Tom (Attorney) from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 2:37 PM

The Illinois Text Messaging Law that began on 01/01//2010 states: "A person may not operate a moter vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to compose, send, or read an electronic message" The word "Roadway" covers all roads in Illinois.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 2:27 PM

Elsewhere in the Vehicle Code, it states that the provisions contained therein apply only to highways unless specifically stated otherwise. Chapter 12, and the prohibitions and requirements stated therein, do not specify otherwise.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 2:24 PM

The state ban is in the section of the Illinois Vehicle Code that addresses what kind of equipment it is permissible to operate while traversing a state highway. The first section o of the statute, Sec. 12-101, sets forth the scope and effect of the provisions in the chapter, which include the electronic messaging ban, and that section limits the applicability of the chapter to highways. So surface streets in our Village are not covered.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 1:48 PM

Tom and Adam are both attorneys but offer conflicting opinions. What is the case law regarding this issue?

Tom (Attorney) from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 1:43 PM

@Adam You are incorrect. Typically when you see ordinances that overlap state law it just allows for flexibility in enforcing the infraction. For example, OPPD could in theory write a speeding ticket as a local ordinance violation. Then the violator would go to Oak Park's Kangaroo court and ajudicate the matter there. The entire fine would go to Oak Park and the violator would not get a moving violation on their record with the state. These local "administrative courts" are a big scam.

Editor from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 12:40 PM

Of course there is already a law on the books that can be enforced with a ticket, but is always nicer for the Country, when Oak Park, can make it better. Has nothing to do with vanity. Public Act 096-0130 HB0071 Enrolled LRB096 02938 AJT 12952 b You can when: (6) a driver using an electronic communication device when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park.

Katie from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 11:56 AM

Hope the texting OP cop we were caught behind at the green light on Lake Street a few days ago takes heed!

Adam Salzman from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 10:37 AM

The state ban applies to state roads only (North Avenue / Rte. 64, for example). Local ordinances are still needed.

T.J. from OP  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 9:13 AM

OMG, what a waste of money. It's already illegal to do per state traffic code. OPPD can simply write a ticket like all other moving violation and have it prosecuted through Cook County Circuit Court. This is why we have a state wide traffic code. It's efficient and understadable. We don't need to spend more money reinventing the wheel for political gain.

OP Dad  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 8:30 AM

A nearby story also reports on speed tables to calm traffic... perhaps if we enforced the current traffic laws, we could both increase revenue and make our communities safer without adding more laws that will not be enforced.

Citizen  

Posted: July 26th, 2011 10:26 PM

Cops have been having their attention distracted by laptops, not cell phones for years.

read   

Posted: July 26th, 2011 10:24 PM

(625 ILCS 5/12-610.2) states:This Section does not apply to:(1) a law enforcement officer or operator of an emergency vehicle while performing his or her official duties;

Violet Aura  

Posted: July 26th, 2011 7:24 PM

But where can we drop off their Darwin awards?

Marty Funkhauser  

Posted: July 26th, 2011 7:05 PM

Make sure the police see this new ordinance. They are as guilty as everyone else when it comes to driving and texting.

Dannon from Oak Park  

Posted: July 26th, 2011 5:46 PM

It amazes me that seemingly intelligent people can be stupid enough to engage in this practice. I walk quite a bit and see this everywhere--and it's not just young people. Many many parents do the same in traffic, approaching stop signs, kids in the back seat, oblivious to who is near the crosswalk. When I yell out "stop texting!" they look at me like I'm some kind of freak. Doubt the police can help, this but maybe there is hope

RF  

Posted: July 26th, 2011 5:36 PM

OMG. LoL.

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 26th, 2011 5:26 PM

The Board direction (going back to last year on this) is for the legal department to also look at significant restrictions or an outright ban on cell phone usage as well (though it may also make sense for the Board of Health and/or Transportation Commission to review, if the new Board so desires, as well). As an fyi, AT&T did a powerful public service ad on this subject. It's called "The last text" and can be seen by going to http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=2964

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: July 26th, 2011 5:22 PM

Marty, Are you saying that even though it's a state law, individual towns must pass their own law (ordinance) in order to enforce such state law?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 26th, 2011 3:40 PM

Great idea! Distracted drivers are responsible for the majority of vehicular incidents.

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