Did You Know?

Only 0.7 percent of federal transportation funds are spent on improving pedestrian facilities.

Hang it up!

Sun Times' transportation reporter Mary Wisniewski gets it:

Here's a confession: I used to talk on the cell phone a lot while driving, both hands-free and hands-full. It kept me from feeling bored in traffic, it saved time, and I knew my chances of getting stopped for it were about equal to my chances of getting ticketed for jaywalking on State Street.

Last month, I decided enough was enough, and stopped. I looked at it this way — I've done 956 really stupid things in my life. But I've never driven drunk because I was afraid I'd hit a kid. Since talking on a cell phone can be as bad as driving drunk, that meant I had to hang up the phone. So I did.

The ban for talking on a cell phone while driving in Chicago is about to go up. Sure, passing a law doesn't automatically stop everyone.

But, as she says, Laws alone aren't going to stop cell phone use while driving. There has to be something else — a sense of social shame. There has to be a tipping point — to go from thinking it's OK to drive while on the phone to thinking it's akin to breaking wind in public.

Think of how many people smoked in the 1970s — one of my jobs as a kid was to empty and clean out the household ashtrays. My kids have never even seen an ashtray. It's not because cigarettes are illegal — they're banned from many indoor places, but they're still legal outside and in people's homes. Most people don't smoke anymore because enough of them got the message that it's insanely bad for your health, and social mores evolved to make it seem silly instead of cool. That's what's going to have to happen with cell phones and cars.