Governor Pat Quinn just signed off on legislation that bans the use of any hand held cell phone or other electronic device while driving. The law affects the entire state and will go into effect on January first of this coming year. The fine for using a cell phone or other electronic device once the law goes into effect is $75 for the first offense and the fine may be as high as double for repeat offenders.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois will be joining approximately a dozen other states that have also put a statewide ban on the usage of handheld devices while driving. Currently in Illinois, certain cities and towns have varying laws regarding cell phone and other electronic usage, but this law will make the ban statewide and less confusing to drivers. Illinois already had a law in place against texting and driving which will not be affected by this new legislation.
In addition to facing increased fines on repeat offenders, drivers will also have the ticket count as a moving violation. In Illinois if a driver has three moving violations in one year, the driver’s license may be suspended.
Under the new law, drivers would not be penalized for using a cell phone without a hands free device in the case of an emergency. The law also allows drivers to make phone calls while driving if they are using speakerphone or using a hands free device. Many advocates of the new law feel that the law does not quite go far enough, since it can still be very distracting to talk on the phone while driving even when the call is being made hands free. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, studies have shown that there is actually little difference between drivers using hands free devices to make phone calls while driving and drivers using phones without a hands free device, with respect to driver distraction.
Car accidents are often caused by distracted drivers and the hope is that this new legislation will help cut down on the accidents that could be avoided by driver always keeping their attention on the road. In addition to enacting this new law, the Governor has also signed legislation that increases the penalties that drivers face when they cause an accident while they were using cell phones while driving.
All of these new laws aim to keep Illinois safer and keep its drivers paying attention to the road. However, the laws will be much more successful if drivers understand the reasoning behind them and how important it is to not allow distractions to keep their attention from the road. The safest way to ensure that you are not distracted while driving is to not use a cell phone or other electronic device at any time that you are driving. There is no way to use a phone without it causing any distraction, so unless it is an emergency it is best to not use it until you stop driving. If everyone makes it a point to be safe and not allow themselves to get distracted while driving, Illinois drivers will be much safer for everyone.