Cell phone ban has reduced number of Chicago car accidents; Federal distracted driving summit may consider nationwide mandate

The U.S. Department of Transportation will hold a National Distracted Driving Summit in September as the federal government continues the effort to convince states to adopt measures aimed at preventing motorists from texting while driving.

The first summit was held last year and culminated in an order issued by President Obama that forbid 4 million federal employees from text messaging while driving government vehicles. As we reported recently on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, authorities believe the state’s texting ban is partly responsible for the reduction in Chicago car accidents and serious and fatal traffic accidents elsewhere in Illinois.But there is concern that the patchwork of legislation is less than desirable. Eight states ban the use of hand-held cell phones. Thirty states ban drivers from text messaging. Twenty-eight states forbid new drivers from using cell phones except in cases of emergency.

Several states, including Florida and Arizona, have no laws at all. Meanwhile, some large cities, including Chicago, have enacted their own laws. Using hand-held cell phones is illegal in Chicago but permitted elsewhere in Illinois, except in school zones and areas of road construction. Text messaging by drivers is illegal throughout the state.

Many expect the federal government to soon announce the use of federal highway dollars to induce states to fall into line with a uniform standard. A similar tactic was used to convince states to adopt uniform standards for drunk driving and seat belt compliance as the fed threatened to withhold highway funding from states that failed to comply.

Nationwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 6,000 people are killed and more than 500,000 are injured each year in accidents caused by distracted driving. Only drunk driving and speeding are blamed for more deaths.

“Working together, we can put an end to the thousands of needless deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving each year,” said Secretary LaHood. “By getting the best minds together, I believe we can figure out how to get people to put down their phones and pay attention to the road.”

If you are injured in a car accident, contact the Chicago injury lawyers at Abels & Annes for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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