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New Driving Safety Laws Signed into Illinois Laws

Governor Bruce Rauner signed two new driving safety measure laws this month. The first cracks down on distracted driving. The second encourages motorists to watch for bikes. The new law will go into effect July 1, 2019.

Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.Under the current law, which took effect in 2014, first-time offenses were treated as non-moving violations while subsequent offenses were treated as moving violations. Therefore, starting next summer, people caught texting while driving become a moving violation that will go on their driving record – even if it’s their first offense.

In a statement, Secretary of State Jesse White said, “No driver should be texting while driving. With the increased use of technological devices, distracted driving has become a serious problem on the roads of our state and throughout the nation.”

Specifically, the new law makes the penalty $75 for a first offense. The subsequent fines include:

  • $100 for a second,
  • $125 for a third and
  • $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense.

Dutch Reach Method of Opening Doors

The Dutch Reach encourages drivers and passengers to use the hand farthest from the door to reach across the body to open the door after parallel parking. This forces people who open motor vehicle doors to look back for cyclists and other traffic. According to the Active Transportation Alliance, this can help prevent sometimes-fatal “dooring” crashes. To reduce pedestrian accidents, educating the public on new measures can reduce injuries.
The lllinois Department of Transportation data shows dooring crashes on the rise across the state. Got example, in 2015, there were more than 300 reported in Chicago, a 50 percent increase from the previous year.

According to the new law, the Secretary of State shall include this method in the Illinois Rules of the Road publication. The publication will  advising drivers to use the Dutch Reach method when opening a vehicle door after parallel parking on a street. The method may appear on the written driving test concerning questions about safety.

In 2019, remember these two new driving safety measures.


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Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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