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Will a New Law Minimize Distracted Driving in Illinois?

Posted on in Car Accidents

illinois texting and driving lawsLast August, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill that prohibits the use of all hand-held phones by drivers. The law officially became effective and enforceable as of January 1, 2014. This makes Illinois the twelfth state to employ such a prohibition on the use of hand-held phones while driving. Commercial truck drivers were prohibited from using phones a full year earlier.

It is little wonder why policymakers would focus on cell phone-related car accidents. According to the Illinois Tollway, citing the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, hand-held cell phone usage, either through texting or taking phone calls, caused approximately 6,000 motor vehicle accidents in the state between 2008 and 2012. At any second during the day approximately 800,000 drivers on the roads in Illinois are using a cell phone while behind the wheel. The problem is particularly worrisome with teenagers, as studies consistently show that younger drivers are guilty of distracted driving at elevated rates.

Is the New Law Effective?

Under the new law, if caught using your cell phone while driving, you can incur a fine of $75; there are increased penalties for subsequent offenses.

Now that the ban has been in effect for several months, local safety advocates are looking at the data to determine if the law is having any effect. Thus far, it is too early to view accident rates to analyze if traveler safety is improving as a result of the law. However, information is already available on the ticketing practices of local municipalities which shed some light on how the new law is being enforced.

According to an NBC Report, local law enforcement agencies throughout Chicagoland vary dramatically in their ticketing rates. For example, Hoffman Estates has issued the most citations--630 in February and March alone. Palatine issued about 310 in March, while Arlington Heights averaged about 90 tickets each of the last two months. Other locations are more lenient, issuing warnings instead of citations. Oak Lawn, for instance, has issued only a single ticket, instead relying on verbal warning to drivers.

Recovery Following an Illinois Accident

Hopefully the new law acts as a key incentive to alter driver behavior, lower distraction, and ultimately save lives. It is unlikely that the conduct will change overnight. Every day travelers risk lives by taking their eyes off the road. As a legal matter, whenever an accident is caused by another’s negligence, including distraction, then those affected can pursue their legal options via a civil lawsuit. This is true regardless of whether or not there is a law on the books which forbids use of phones while driving.

If you or a loved one is ever hurt in an accident and suspect that another driver may have been distracted driving in Illinois, it is critical to secure the aid of an experienced car accident attorney. At Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. we represent those hurt in all manner of motor vehicle accidents throughout Northern Illinois and Chicago. Contact us today to see how we can help in your case.

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