New distracted driving laws in Illinois take effect in 2013

As the dangers of distracted driving have become clear, states across the country have continued to strengthen the laws targeted at drivers who engage in this risky behavior. Illinois is no exception.

As of January 1, 2013, two new laws governing distracted driving were implemented in Illinois. The Illinois Transportation Secretary has stated that she hopes these laws will prevent fatalities on Illinois roadways, as we have learned that distracted driving can be "as dangerous as drinking and driving."

The first law enhances the prior prohibition against using cellphones while driving through construction zones. Before the implementation of the new law, work zones were defined as those that had speed limits that were reduced from the normal, posted speed limit in the area. Now, motorists are not allowed to use cellphones in any construction zone, even if the speed limit has not been reduced. Drivers in these areas are allowed to use their phones, though, if they have hands-free technology.

The second law is focused on cellphone use by commercial motor vehicle drivers. Prior to January 1, 2013, all truck drivers in Illinois were prohibited from texting while driving. The new law also bans commercial motor vehicle drivers from using hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel.

Distracted driving laws in Illinois

In addition to these new laws, Illinois has previously implemented other legislation to prevent dangerous distracted driving accidents.

For instance, Illinois law prohibits all drivers from sending text messages while driving. Banning texting while driving has become a common tactic across the country to prevent auto accidents. Research has found that texting while behind the wheel is particularly dangerous, as it involves three types of distraction. When someone sends a text, he or she is distracted:

  • Visually
  • Manually
  • Cognitively

Consequently, the risk of a driver getting into a car crash increases 23 times when he or she is texting behind the wheel, according to a study conducted by Virginia Tech.

In addition, bus drivers and novice drivers are banned from using cellphones - both hand-held and hands-free - while behind the wheel. In Illinois, a novice driver is considered to be any motorist who is under 19 years of age.

Illinois drivers are also prohibited from using cellphones while driving through school zones.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driver accident, you may be entitled to damages. A skilled Illinois personal injury attorney will ensure you rights are protected and just compensation is received.