Distracted Driving: Understanding the Illinois Cell Phone Laws
It is important to know and understand how the relatively new Illinois law on banning cell phones applies to you. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, almost 6,000 car crashes in Illinois have occurred from 2008 to 2012 in which some form of driver distraction involving a cell phone was cited by the police. According to the agency, this included 30 fatalities. To confront this sudden increase in car accidents, only hands-free technology such as speakerphones, Bluetooth, and headsets are permitted.
Obviously, this ban on handheld devices helps Illinois prohibit texting while driving. The anti-texting law clearly explains that a person may not operate a motor vehicle while using an electronic communication device to compose, send or read an electronic message. However, there are exceptions for drivers who are texting for the sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation or continued communication with emergency personnel during the emergency situation.
All cell phone use is prohibited while driving in a school zone, as well as driving in a highway construction zone. However, if a driver is parked on the shoulder of a roadway or when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed while the driver has the car transmission in park, he or she then may use a hands-free or voice-activated mode.
The state’s hope is that this ban will make streets safer by limiting driver distraction and providing more uniformity to the rules of the road. Already dozens of city districts, including Chicago, have begun enforcing their own cell phone and driving restrictions, thus creating a complicated patchwork of local laws. By having this state–wide ban, Illinois will be able to eliminate confusion.
So what should you know? For starters, the fines for violations of the Illinois cell phone law start at $75. Also, an officer can pull you over for the cell phone and texting offense without having to witness some other violation. Thus, it is safest and smartest to keep your hands off your phone when driving a vehicle.
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