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Distracted Driving Accidents: Update on Illinois Legislation

Illinois is one of 39 states to ban texting while driving. Cellphone use, however, remains a problem.

The National Transportation Safety Board has already voted to encourage states to prohibit all forms of cellphone use - regardless of whether a hands-free device is used. The board reasons that even with a hands-free device, drivers still become distracted by the multi-tasking. The result is far too many distracted driving accidents.

Last month, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed three new laws intended to prevent distracted driving. One of them, House Bill 5101, prohibits texting or handheld cellphone use by commercial drivers while they are driving. When it goes into effect on January 1, violations of the ban will be treated as a serious traffic violation.

The other two bills contained two other specific restrictions on cellphone use behind the wheel. One bill, House Bill 5099, bans the use of cellphones within 500 feet of an emergency scene. The other, Senate Bill 2488, bans the use of cellphones in all types of highway work zones, not only those with specifically posted limits to reduce speed.

The transportation secretary for Illinois, Ann Schneider, acknowledged that these were incremental improvements.

A proposal to prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones and other electronic devices, however, is still under consideration. Rep. John D'Amico of Chicago wants to make it a ticketable offense, similar to a moving violation.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago has said that Illinois may eventually ban all cellphone use by drivers. "It's not what's in your hand, it's what's in your head," he said.

Source: "Illinois: Cell phone & texting laws, legislation," Hands-free Info, 7-31-12

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Chicago distracted driving page.

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