New laws target distracted drivers
From press release
In response to compelling evidence to show texting or using a cell phone while behind the wheel increases the likelihood of crashing, Illinois joined 14 other states Aug. 6 in banning texting while driving.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed legislation that will make it illegal for drivers to talk on a cell phone when driving through school speed zones or construction areas.
The laws were an initiative of the Secretary of State’s Distracted Driving Task Force, and are intended to reduce accidents caused by distracted drivers. They will take effect Jan. 1, 2010.
House Bill 71 prohibits drivers from sending text messages while driving, but also bans sending e-mails or instant messages, surfing the Internet, or reading messages. However, motorists can text while the car is in park or neutral, if they pull over to the shoulder of the road or if there is an accident or emergency. They can also continue to use their GPS devices.
Another measure, House Bill 72, seeks to reduce accidents caused by distracted drivers in school, construction or maintenance zones. House Bill 72 prohibits a driver from using a wireless phone in any of these areas, unless the person is working at the construction or maintenance site, the phone must be used for emergency purposes, or if the telephone was voice-activated.
Although texting bans have been enforced in a number of states, opponents rejected the measure, saying law enforcement officials could use texting as an excuse to target drivers of a potential race or ethnicity. Others challenged the legislation, saying they infringe upon the freedom of citizens and there are already laws that apply to improper lane using and speeding, which adequately police drivers who are sidetracked by using their cell phone to send or read messages.
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