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Illinois Laws Governing Texting While Driving

Use of a hand-held electronic device while driving invites huge fines and penalties in Illinois.

Illinois Laws Governing Texting While Driving

It is illegal in Illinois to compose, send, or read a text message while driving. The ban took effect in January of 2014. Despite the ban, the use of hand-held devices for texting while driving was on the rise, which led Illinois lawmakers to think that stricter laws are necessary to control or reduce the prevalence of the offense. In keeping with that, the lawmakers have recently amended the sections of the Illinois Vehicle Code that deal with car accidents resulting from driver inattention caused by texting while driving.

Amendment to the Illinois Vehicle Code

If a driver is found using an electronic device while driving, a ticket can be issued with a fine of $75. If an accident caused by texting while driving results in serious injuries or permanent disability, the driver can be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, with fines of up to $2,500 and a jail sentence for up to one year. Earlier, if such an accident resulted in any death, the driver would be guilty of a Class 4 felony, with fines of up to $25,000 and a jail sentence for one to three years. Now, after the amendment, the same offense establishes grounds for a Class 2 felony against the driver. If the driver is found guilty, he may face heavier penalties and imprisonment of up to seven years in Illinois.

Facts About Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distraction as any activity that takes a driver’s attention off the task of driving. Some examples of driver distraction include talking on a cell phone, reaching for an object, reading, applying makeup, eating, or drinking. Any kind of driver distraction is dangerous. The use of a hand-held electronic device causes greater distraction. There are mainly three types of distraction – visual, manual, and cognitive. When a driver uses an electronic device, he or she experiences all three types of distraction.

Only a few seconds of distraction may cause a serious accident. A driver may spend five seconds to post a status in social media or to compose or read a text message. This is enough to be involved in a serious car accident. Texting while driving increases accident risks by 23 percent, while reaching for an electronic device increases the chance of an accident by three times.

Distracted Driving Statistics

In the U.S., around 660,000 drivers use hand-held electronic devices while driving. Driver distraction accounts for 16 percent of all fatal accidents, which cause an average of 14 deaths every day. Eight out of every ten drivers expressed concerns over distracted driving, according to the American Automobile Association’s Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index. Teenage drivers are more likely to get distracted while driving. The good news is that the Illinois Department of Transportation is taking the initiative to raise awareness about safe driving.

In 2013, distracted driving accidents caused a total of 3,154 deaths.

The number of injuries caused by distracted driving increased to around 424,000 in 2013. Of the drivers ages 20 or younger who were involved in serious road accidents, around 10 percent were distracted at the time of the accident. Approximately 660,000 drivers use some kind of electronic device at any given time while driving. When drivers use a device for activities that require manual and/or visual involvement, they are exposed to three times higher risk of getting involved in a car accident. Texting or sending a message from a mobile phone distracts a driver for around five seconds. This is sufficient time for a vehicle, moving at 55 mph, to cross a football field.

Distracted driving is taken seriously by Illinois laws. If a driver’s inattention causes an accident, the driver may be fined, penalized, and even sentenced to jail. Strict laws have reduced the number of accidents caused by distracted driving.

Illinois Laws and Distracted Driving

In Illinois, there are strict laws related to distracted driving. For example, it is unlawful for:

  • A driver to send, type, or read mobile phone messages when driving.
  • A driver younger than 19 years to use any type of mobile phone.
  • A bus driver to use any type of mobile phone.
  • A driver to use a mobile phone when driving through accident prone zones.

Other Distractions While Driving

In addition to cell phone use, there are other distractions to avoid while driving:

  • making adjustments to the radio, air conditioner, or seat
  • applying cosmetics while driving
  • emailing while driving
  • reading, writing, eating, or drinking while driving

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