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Using phone while driving is a ‘fine’ idea

8/21/12 Signs promoting new hands free only cellphone ordinance Lake Forest will be recycling trucks until September 1st Lake Forest.

8/21/12 Signs promoting the new hands free only cellphone ordinance in Lake Forest will be on the recycling trucks until September 1st in Lake Forest. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 3, 2012 2:02AM

Drivers who talk on their cell phones, beware: Lake Forest police are now issuing warnings in a one-month grace period leading up to full enforcement of its new hands-free ordinance.

Back on May 21, the Lake Forest City Council passed the ordinance prohibiting the use of hand-held devices while driving, pending a statewide ban.

Beginning Oct. 1, drivers in Lake Forest will be ticketed for violating the ordinance. Fines will be $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second and $300 for each offense thereafter.

Anat Hakim of Lake Forest said she typically uses her phone while driving, but welcomes the new ordinance and associated fines for violators.

“Having an ordinance will definitely make me put my phone away,” she said.

Hakim believes holding a cell phone and talking while driving is a distraction for drivers.

“It will be an adjustment for me, but it’s absolutely better safety-wise,” she said.

Drivers who use hands-free cell phone devices or the speakerphone option will not be ticketed, Lake Forest Acting Police Chief James Held said.

Officers will not be stationed at intersections in town specifically looking for violators, he added.

“The ordinance will be enforced at the officer’s discretion,” Held said. “It’s not as if we’re going to have that as our primary objective.”

Through the month of September, officers will issue warnings to drivers they find violating the new ordinance “unless there is another reason to issue a ticket to the driver, such as a traffic violation,” he said.

City workers will install signs warning drivers at the city entry ways — below the city population signs — that Lake Forest is a hands-free cell device community.

To get the word out, duplicates of the hands-free signs have been posted on city waste and recycling trucks for the past month.

“The trucks are everywhere,” said Superintendent of Public Works Dan Martin. “That’s a benefit we took advantage of” to get the word out, he said.

Information on the ban also was included in the Dialogue newsletter mailed citywide and on the city’s Web site,

Held said he believes from a policing standpoint, the new ordinance is a good one.

“There’s so much going on in the passenger compartment of a car right now, the last thing people need is having a phone in their hand,” Held said.

Nearby cities that have adopted similar ordinances include Highland Park and Evanston.

A similar ordinance is under consideration by the village of Lake Bluff.

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