Illinois bans drivers from using cell phones

10179256_sDrivers in Illinois who enjoy speaking on the phone throughout their commute have been faced with a new way of doing things since January 1, 2014. That is the day that lawmakers chose for the official implementation of a new law banning the use of hand-held cell phones, under certain provisions. While 41 states, including Illinois, have previously enacted texting bans, fewer governmental officials in the U.S. believe hand-held devices pose a threat to public safety.

The law

Illinois lawmakers have joined 12 other states and the District of Columbia in implementing bans on cell phone use while in the car. Drivers can only use a mobile phone if it is equipped with a hands-free setting or device, such as a Bluetooth or speaker system. Headsets are also ok to use if only one ear is covered. Many cars today are being created with built-in systems that allow mobile phones to sync with car speakers. If a new car is not an option, older vehicles can be equipped with similar systems that can integrate someone’s phone and stereo systems. All of these speaker-integration systems are currently legal.

Under the law, drivers are allowed to press one button on their phones to begin and end conversations.  The law is also null in the event of an emergency or if a driver is forced to park on the shoulder. It does not apply when a vehicle is in park or neutral, or if the car has stopped due to normal traffic obstruction.

Violators are subject to a $75 fine for a first offence, up to $150 for repeat offenses and will receive a moving violation on their record. If chronic illegal cell phone use in the car occurs, three violations in a year could end in a suspended driver’s license. Additionally, if drivers are found to have caused accidents due to being distracted, they may face up to a year in prison, and $2,500 in fines. If the car accident involves a fatality, the driver could receive a fine of $25,000 and 3 years in jail.

Why is mobile use while driving a problem? 

Studies have long shown the negative cognitive effects that cell phone use can have on someone who is driving. According to distraction.gov, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents in the U.S. Simply reaching for a phone or dialing a number increases the risk of an accident threefold. Additionally, in 2012, an estimated 421,000 individuals were injured in car crashes that involved a distracted driver, a nine percent increase from the previous year.

Making the choice to drive distracted can have disastrous consequences for the individual and all those around them. Those who have been injured by a distracted driver can contact a Chicago personal injury attorney to learn how to proceed with their claim.

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