Nearly 600 people have been killed in traffic accidents throughout Illinois so far this year, according to a source from WLS Chicago, and officials say distracted driving plays one of the largest roles in these fatalities. In an effort to prevent distracted driving accidents, Governor Pat Quinn has recently signed a law that will rid of one of the biggest driving distractions: cell phones. Texting and driving is already prohibited in Illinois, but now the state will join about a dozen others that also ban hand-held devices behind the wheel.
Under the new legislation effective January 1st, 2014, the use of hand-held devices is banned for Illinois drivers unless they use hands-free technology or pull off of the road to make a call. Calls can also legally be made in the case of an emergency. Fines for violating this law will start at $75 for first offenses and may rise up to $150 for repeat offenses. Moving violations on motorists’ driving records are also possible results, with three moving violations within a year leading to suspension of the driver’s license. WLS Chicago continues to state that distracted motorists who harm or kill others in an accident could be charged with fines up to $25,000 and up to three years of jail time.
Our personal injury attorneys recently learned of an Illinois accident in which a 46-year old victim was seriously injured after his truck was struck from behind by another vehicle. The driver of this vehicle had reached down to pick up his cell phone after it had fallen to the floor and consequently hit the truck. This accident is only one example of the many that occur each day due to cell phone distraction. In a statement made after implementing his new law, Governor Quinn said, “Too many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been prevented. Anyone driving a car should be careful, responsive and alert behind the wheel.”
Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that cell phone usage while driving increases the chances of getting into a car or truck accident by almost 25%. Research also shows that using a hand-held cell phone versus hands-free devices does not change accident rates and that both prove to be equally distracting once a conversation starts. Therefore, though Governor Quinn’s law is believed to cut down on distracted driving significantly, many argue that a decrease in distractions needs to stem from drivers by choosing to rid of cell phone usage in their vehicle for their own safety, and not only on police who will be enforcing the new law.
Our lawyers want to urge the public to drive attentively, responsibly, and without cell phones on Illinois roadways. By refraining from using your cell phone, you are considerably decreasing the chances of you or surrounding motorists being involved in an accident. If a negligent car or truck driver has injured you or a loved one, please contact us to discuss your potential lawsuit. We are willing to assist you in determining if legal recourse is available to you and are prepared to offer you the resources you need to seek legal action.