• Ronald Wittmeyer
  • December 28, 2013

On January 1, 2014, Illinois will enforce a new cell phone ban. We have all been running late to a meeting or a dinner with family. We quickly grab the phone to tell whomever we are supposed to meet that we will be a few minutes late. With the cell phone in one hand and the other hand on the wheel, we discuss how our day went as we travel back home. However, in 2014, this quick call may lead to sirens and flashing lights following you and making you even later for your appointment. On August 16, 2013, Governor Pat Quinn signed HB 1247, which expanded the texting ban put into effect in 2010 to any use of the phone.

Illinois drivers will not be allowed to use any handheld wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, or a mobile computer. However, the cell phone ban would not include GPS systems, devices integrated into the motor vehicle, or some music players. A driver may pull over and park on the shoulder of the road to use the phone. Additionally, a driver may use the phone when stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed if the driver has put the car in neutral or park. A person who violates the new law will be fined at most $75 for a first offense. The fines increase until they max out at $150.

Currently, many local jurisdictions, including Chicago, have had cell phone bans in place. Additionally, Illinoisans cannot use hand-held cellphones in school and construction zones. All drivers under 18 cannot use use their cell phone except in emergency situations.  Lastly, commercial truck drivers have been required to use hands-free devices.

According to the Chicago Tribune, supporters contend the cell phone ban will make streets safer by limiting driver distraction and providing more uniformity to the rules of the road.  An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012, which was an 9% increase compared to 2011. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 1.6 million (25%) of crashes annually are due to cell phone use, and another 1 million (18%) traffic accidents are due to texting while driving.

To be able to make phone calls, invest in a Bluetooth device or other system that integrates your cell phone into the car. Many newer cars come pre-installed with Bluetooth technology. Look into your options so you are following the law. Remember though that even talking on the phone without it being in your hand is a distraction and to reduce the chance of car accidents, it is best to pay full attention to driving.

As you leave your New Year’s parties, remember this cell phone ban and call your friends and family when you get home. Don’t chance getting a ticket or getting into an accident as you begin 2014.

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