Safe Driver Act of 2011 Could Increase Distracted Driving Laws in Illinois

Illinois is already one of the states in the United States that has banned the use of cell phones by drivers in school and work zones and has banned all drivers from text messaging in an attempt to reduce the frequency of distracted driving car accidents in Illinois, according to the Governors Highway Safety Administration. While many motorists ignore these safe driving laws, they may soon have another force fighting their distracted driving habits. A proposed federal law. Introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., aims to federalize driving and cell phone usage. These types of laws are currently managed by individual states– and sometimes even cities as is the case with Chicago’s cell phone ban.Our Chicago car accident attorneys hope that this proposed legislation will one day serve as additional ammo in the fight against distracted drivers. The proposed bill would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to set up a standard for the entire country that would prohibit hand-held cell phone use while driving.

“Driving while making a phone call, texting or using apps can be as dangerous as driving drunk, and much more common,” Rep. McCarthy said. “With some basic commonsense rules that are already in place in some parts of the country, we can reduce injuries and save lives in America.”

There are a few exclusions to this proposed law. Drivers would still be allowed to use voice-operated, vehicle-integrated devices, as well as voice-operated GPS systems. Even though there are cognitive distractions still present with hands-free devices, they pose a much less serious problem than using a hand-held device.

Under the proposed bill, the Department of Transportation would be required to conduct a study on distracted driving. This study would be required to focus on the issue of cognitive distraction and the impact of distraction on newly licensed, young drivers. Within two years of the completed study, the DOT would then be required to report its findings to Congress. Recommendations for revising the minimum distracted driving prohibitions and penalties must accompany this report. These newly proposed minimum distracted driving prohibitions would be mandatory for all states. Each state would then be allotted two years to comply with the law or lose a quarter of their federal highway funding.

Currently, each state is able to create their own laws regulating cell phone and texting use. Some states offer strict laws to prevent distracted driving while others have absolutely no restrictions at all. A majority of states ban teenagers from using cell phones while driving. Texting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is forbidden in some 30 states. If this proposed bill becomes law, the entire country would be put under a seamless law that would require all motorists to follow it or face the consequences.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 5,500 people died because of car accidents that involved a distracted driver in 2009. These accidents accounted for roughly 1 in 6 of all motor-vehicle accident related fatalities that year.

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

Additional Resources:

Safe Drivers Act of 2011 Introduced to Congress, by Matt Keegan, Auto Trends Magazine
More Blog Entries:

Website Dedicated to Teen Driver Education and Reducing Teen Car Accidents in Illinois, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, June 26, 2011

NHTSA Releases Stats for Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, June 24, 2011

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