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A suburban Chicago town wants the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority to see the signs and permit blue hospitality signs advertising local hotels, restaurants and services.

The village of North Aurora, west of Chicago, approved a resolution calling for the installation of the blue hospitality signs, which village trustees hope will "create important economic development opportunities and hopefully eliminate the further erosion and closure of many restaurants, hotels and other businesses" near Illinois toll roads.

The familiar blue signs, found on the sides of most U.S. highways as vehicles near exits, are allowed on some Illinois highways but banned from its toll roads, including I-88, which cuts through North Aurora. The ban is based on the belief by the toll authority that the signs can serve as a distraction to drivers, much like mobile phones.

The debate over "distracted driving" led to a ban in 2010 by the Illinois legislature prohibiting anyone from texting while driving or using a cell phone in a school zone. The legislation allows local municipalities to establish their own laws regarding cell use while driving. Chicago, for example, enacted laws allowing only hands free use of a cell phone.

The toll authority allows the blue hospitality signs on its highways in the western counties. Similar blue signs that advertised former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's name in 2006 were allowed and only fueled critics of the ban, which is in effect on toll highways in the surrounding Lake County area. Village officials say installing the signs will bring more tourists to the area, especially its retail stores and shopping mall, which have suffered during the current recession.

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