BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- Drivers who continue to break a cell phone ban in Illinois should now consider themselves warned for the last time in Belleville.
The first dozen or so 'No Cell Phone Use in School Zone' warning signs went up near school cross walks Wednesday.
Dozens more are coming soon to remind drivers about something they should already know: using your phone while driving through a school zone has been against the law in Illinois since 2010.
'You`ve got to remind the drivers,' said Belleville Alderman Phil Elmore, who helped spearhead the effort to post the signs. 'If we can just get a few more people to think, `hey, I`m approaching a school zone, even though I`m in a hurry on my way to work, there could be a little kid darting across this street any second now`, and there usually are.'
Fox 2 found about 40% of drivers passing through a school zone at West Junior High were on their phones. That backed up what Elmore`s son, Stephen, a 6th grader and a crossing guard, found at his school recently as kids were crossing busy Carlyle Avenue to get to Douglas School.
'My dad told me to count how many cars and how many people were driving with their cell phones and I counted about 17 in 25 minutes; just going one way,' Stephen said. 'I know you kind of forget sometimes that you`re not supposed to use your cell phone, but you`ve got to remember there could be a kid coming by and you`re just not paying attention.'
Driver Robin Szakasits was on her phone as she drove right by a new sign at Roosevelt School; the sign was facing the other direction and it was more than 2 hours after school.
She said she supported the ban and called for more signs, not just at schools, but at day cares, too.
'I think it`s very important that the parents who are older are more responsible because a little kid could walk out in the street and if someone`s on the phone a little kid could get hit and that could take a baby`s life, an innocent life,' she said.
'I didn`t know myself and I got pulled over two months ago that I was on a cell phone in a school zone,' said Schmaka Bates, the mother of a Douglas School student.
Police gave her a warning; so did her son, Rashad, a 4th grader at Douglas.
'Get off your phone, because you`re not right,' he said.
She, too, wanted to see more signs.
Elmore said, no problem; a dozen or so schools had ordered about 40 so far; all were welcome to join the cooperative program between the Belleville Street Department and area schools.
'Everyone that they buy, we`re going to buy another one, so we can get both directions. We have a lot schools with multiple crosswalks. We could have one school, like Douglas school here, may have 4 crosswalks. We could have a lot of high schools with the big parking lots. If the school wants to put up a sign, they can tell us where they`d like it. We`re going to match it.'
He said the ban applied the same way as school speed zones: in effect on school days when children are present.
Interested school leaders should contact the Belleville Street Department.
Elmore said the signs cost less than $10 each.
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