New Year brings new laws to combat Illinois car accidents caused by distracted driving

The Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Secretary of State and Illinois State Police are reminding motorists of new Illinois traffic laws that take effect Jan. 1 and are aimed at reducing Illinois car accidents.

In August, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed two new laws. The laws make it illegal for motorists to send text messages while driving in Illinois and make it illegal to talk on a cell phone while traveling through a school zone or highway construction zone. The laws also make it illegal to compose, send or read text messages, instant messages and e-mail on a cell phone or surf the internet while driving. The law does not include GPS or navigation systems but does include personal digital assistants and portable or mobile computers.

“When motorists text and drive, they are putting themselves and others in serious danger,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “We are pleased to be among the 19 states that have outlawed texting and driving and we are confident it will lead to fewer crashes and fatalities in Illinois.”

The Chicago car accident lawyers at Abels & Annes have followed the issue throughout the year, noting recently a New York Times story that pointed out the “car phone” literally made its debut at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Cell phone companies have quit marketing the devices as “car phones” over the years amid evidence of deaths caused by distracted driving, particularly with the advent of text messaging.

Drivers have already been forbidden from using cell phones within the City of Chicago since 2005; but the news laws are expected to bring a new round of enforcement aimed at reducing distracted driving deaths in Illinois.

“With the increased use of technological devices, distracted driving has become a serious problem in our state and in the nation,” said Secretary of State Jesse White. “These new laws are important and will make our roads safer. No driver has any business text messaging while they are driving. Additionally, school zones and construction zones require drivers to slow down and pay special attention to their surroundings and, as a result, they should not be using a cell phone.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driver distraction from all sources contributes to 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes.

“Every time a driver takes their eyes or their focus off the road – even for just a few seconds – they put their lives and the lives of others in danger,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Regional Administrator Michael Witter. “Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible and its consequences can be devastating.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the Chicago car accident lawyers and the personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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