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Will New Cell Phone Laws Reduce Distracted Driving Accidents?

May 2, 2013

In January 2013, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced three traffic safety laws that went into effect at the first of the year. The laws are intended to make the roads safer for drivers. Two of these traffic laws addressed distracted driving problems by tightening the rules for texting and driving.

Our Chicago, IL accident attorneys know that a person using a handheld wireless device is four times more likely to crash, when compared with a driver who is not distracted. statistics also make clear that texting increases the chances of a crash by 23 times — a person who is distracted by a cell phone will devote 37 percent less brain energy to driving. As such, any laws that discourage or prevent drivers from focusing on things other than the road can help to improve safety for people in the state of Illinois.

New 2013 Distracted Driving Laws

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation:

  • Senate Bill 2488 prohibits the use of a cell phone in any maintenance speed zone or construction zone, no matter what the speed limit. Drivers in a maintenance or construction zone can use their cell phone only if they use voice operation with the phone in voice-operated mode. Cell phones with a headset and/or with single button activation are permitted. This new law strengthens an existing rule that imposed a phone ban and a higher ticket in work zones only if the speed limit dropped within the zone. Without a posted speed-limit reduction, the higher ticket did not apply under the previous rule. The prior law also allowed phones with voice activation. 
  • House Bill 5101 bans texting or using hand held cell phones when operating a commercial motor vehicle. The prior law in Illinois outlawed texting and driving in all vehicles, but did not impose a widespread ban on cell phones. The new law not only bans cell phones for commercial drivers but also makes the offense a serious traffic violation. The change was made in compliance with the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (MCSR) laws banning commercial drivers from texting and using a cell phone. It applies to coaches or buses designed to transport 16 or more people; trucks transporting materials considered hazardous; and trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds (with the exception of military vehicles; personal RVs; fire trucks; emergency response and police vehicles).

These two laws will help to make work zones safer and will help to protect the public from auto accidents caused by drivers of large commercial vehicles who aren’t paying attention.

Cell Phones and Driving Don’t Mix

Any laws that impose limits on the use of cell phones when driving are important in solving a very serious public health problem. Distracted driving was a contributing factor in as many as 18 percent of all injury-causing car accidents nationwide in 2010, and 3,092 people lost their lives during that same period because of a car crash caused by a distracted driver.

Thousands of lives could be saved if laws ban texting/cell phone use and if drivers make a smart choice never to focus on their phones instead of focusing on the road.

If you need an accident attorney in the Chicago, Illinois area, contact Coplan & Crane at 800-394-6002 or visit our Oak Park office.