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Proposed Bill Would Have Illinois Drivers Hang up Their Phones
A proposed bill in Illinois would prohibit all drivers from sending text messages and using hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel.

To limit driver distractions and help keep other drivers, passengers and pedestrians safe, Illinois prohibits drivers from texting anytime or using hand-held cellphones while driving through school or construction zones. Further, the state bans drivers under the age of 18 from all cellphone use.

Currently, a bill before the state Legislature proposes to prevent even more distracted-driving accidents on Illinois roads. The bill would ban all drivers from using hand-held cellphones for texting, talking or Internet surfing; excluded from the ban would be two-way radios and emergency use of hand-held cellphones. If passed, drivers would still be allowed to use hands-free and voice-operated technology to make phone calls while behind the wheel.

Under the proposed law, a driver caught texting while driving will be ticketed for a moving violation and face fines of up to $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense, and $150 for fourth and subsequent offenses.

The state is targeting distracted driving for good reason. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, throughout the United States accidents involving distracted drivers killed nearly 5,500 people and injured approximately 448,000 more in 2009. NHTSA reports further that distracted driving deaths in 2009 accounted for 16 percent of all car-accident fatalities that year.

Effectiveness of Hand-Held Cellphone Bans

A study by California’s Office of Traffic Safety found the number of car accidents causing injuries and fatalities fell after implementing an overall ban on drivers’ use of hand-held cellphones. According to the study, total car-accident fatalities dropped 22 percent after the implementation of the ban, but fatalities in accidents linked to cellphone use dropped nearly 50 percent, reports stltoday.com.

However, not everyone agrees with the assessment that distracted driving laws correspond to preventing car accidents.

“The expectation would be that as cellphone use has skyrocketed we would see a correlation in the number of accidents, but that hasn’t happened,” Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Association, or GHSA, was quoted in a Chicago Tribune article as stating.

A study by Saurabh Bhargava of the University of Chicago and Vikram Pathania of the London School of Economics, supports Mr. Adkins claim. Looking at the number of calls made just prior to and after the time when cellphone rates become cheaper, the study found that call volumes rose by 7 percent after 9 p.m., but did not find a corresponding rise in the car-crash rate.

Been in an Accident With a Distracted Driver?

The injuries caused by distracted-driving accidents can be devastating, including broken bones; head, neck and back injuries; and even traumatic brain injuries. These injuries not only cause pain and suffering, but also can leave injured drivers and passengers with expensive medical bills and years of rehabilitation.

Speaking with a personal injury attorney after a car accident with a distracted driver cannot undo the physical and emotional harm done, but it can lead to holding the other driver responsible for his or her negligent actions, and compensation for your bills, and pain and suffering.

Keywords: Text Messaging, Hand-Held Cell Phones
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