Abels & Annes

Illinois safety advocates call for nationwide cell phone ban to reduce car accidents

Our Chicago car accident lawyers frequently report on the dangers motorists face as a result of distracted driving, particularly cell phone use and text messaging while behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 5,474 motorists were killed and nearly 450,000 were injured last year in car accidents caused by distracted driving.

The National Safety Council opened December by launching a push for a nationwide ban on cell phone use by drivers. The Itasca, Illinois safety organization claims a recent survey found such a ban would be supported by two-thirds of voters.

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Car accidents in Chicago have been reduced in the years since the city outlawed hand-held cell phone use by drivers. Meanwhile, two new laws were enacted in Illinois this year which make it illegal to text message while driving or to use hand-held cell phones in schools zones and construction sites. Fines for violations start at $75.

But it is precisely such patchwork legislation that the NSC aims to end by pushing for a nationwide ban. The organization also contends that using hands-free devices are no safer. Only eight states ban the use of all hand-held cell phones by drivers and no state bans the use of phones completely.

The organization said phones are a factor in 1.3 million crashes a year and half of 2,424 respondents to a recent survey said they believe a nationwide ban would increase highway safety “a great deal.” While texting by drivers is now outlawed in 30 states, the NSC reports that cell phone conversations are involved in 12 times as many crashes as text messaging.

“The public is fed up with their safety being jeopardized because of phone calls,” said David Teater, senior director of Transportation Initiatives for NSC. “It is our hope that elected officials realize the strong public support for laws, and that they are quickly passed to protect motorists and others on our roadways.”

Early this year, the federal government conducted pilot enforcement programs of cell phone laws in Hartford Connecticut and Syracuse, New York. The year-long campaigns found it is possible to enforce such bans in a manner similar to “Click it or Ticket” seat-belt enforcement campaigns. The enforcement effort led to a reduction of as much as 50 percent in driver cell phone use.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the Illinois personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free case evaluations. Call (866) 99-ABELS.