* I was driving on I-55 late yesterday afternoon when I saw a guy in my rear-view mirror who was about to pass me. He was holding his cell phone with one hand and gesturing wildly with the other hand. Neither hand was on his steering wheel as he shot by me at about 80 mph. I watched him for as long as I could behind me, alongside and in front of me. He never put either hand on the wheel.
Anyway, IDOT did a study last November of drivers ahead of a statewide ban on hand-held cellphone use…
In Chicago, nearly 18 percent of all drivers who were observed during the study — about 21 percent of female drivers and 15 percent of male drivers — were holding cellphones or other electronic devices close to their ears or faces.
The statewide rate was about 12 percent, the study found. There was a similar gender gap among the smaller portion of violators statewide, with about 14 percent of female drivers and 10 percent of male drivers.
Electronic device use by drivers in Cook County was 12 percent and almost 13 percent in DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Winnebago counties, the IDOT study found.
Six downstate counties (Champaign, Bureau, Effingham, Rock Island, Madison and St. Clair) had the lowest rate of illegal electronic device use, at 9 percent , the study reported. […]
The campaign comes as newly released research shows virtually no change in the percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating hand-held devices in the U.S. The percentage stood at 5 percent in 2012 — which means that at any given time during the day, an estimated 660,000 vehicles are driven by people using hand-held cellphones, according to the latest annual study conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
* In other news…
The chances of being able to legally drive 70 mph on Chicago-area expressways and tollways anytime soon hit a major speed bump Friday after a Senate panel rejected Republican U.S. Senate nominee Jim Oberweis’ push to allow higher speeds in the city and suburbs.
The 2-1 vote along party lines effectively kills legislation the state senator from Sugar Grove is carrying to clarify a law he helped pass last year that allowed 70-mph speed limits — up from 65 miles per hour — on rural interstates.
Oberweis had intended last year’s law, which passed overwhelmingly, to apply to Chicago and suburban expressways and tollways. But Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration interpreted it to apply to less heavily used arteries only outside Cook and the collar counties.
The senator’s new, clean-up legislation wouldn’t have mandated higher limits on city and suburb routes such as the Stevenson Expressway or Jane Addams Tollway, but it would have empowered the Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Toll Highway Authority to impose them if the agencies wished.
Blue Line service to O’Hare International Airport will be halted for at least until Tuesday as federal authorities investigate what caused a CTA train to jump the platform this morning and injure more than 30 people.
More than 10 hours after the crash, the train remained atop the escalator at the end of the track. Transit officials declined to discuss how or when they would dismantle the wreckage.
“The train is not going to go anywhere for the foreseeable future,” said Tim DePaepe, a railroad accident investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. “It’s not going anywhere today. We need to examine the train and the position it’s in prior to its movement.”
Trains continue to run between Forest Park and Rosemont, where passengers then can catch a shuttle to the airport. The large, articulated buses are operating on a load-and-go basis instead of a schedule, adding 5 to 10 minutes to the typical airport trip, officials said.