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Governor signs ban on cellphone use while driving

Man using a cellphone while drivingTalkers take note: Starting in January you’ll have to pull to the side of the road before you pick up your cellphone—or face a heavy fine.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law on Aug. 16 that bans using a handheld cellphone for any purpose while driving. Chicago and many other Illinois communities already had such an ordinance in place, but soon it will be the law across the Land of Lincoln.

The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014, does not ban the use of hands-free devices, so you can still use your Bluetooth or any device that runs the sound through your car’s speakers.

Fines for violating the law will start at a minimum of $75, but can go up from there—repeat offenses can cost a driver up to $150.

The governor also signed a bill that will increase penalties for those who injure or kill others in crashes caused by phones or other electronic devices.

Supporters say the law will reduce distracted driving. Critics, however, argue that it’s too burdensome for police to enforce and it won’t be that effective, since hands-free calling that is exempt from the new law also is distracting for drivers. What do you think?