* The summary…
House Bill 1247 prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle on any road in Illinois while using a mobile phone or other electronic communication device. The bill makes exceptions for hands-free devices, including those with headsets that can initiate a call using a single button or a voice command. The new law takes effect January 1, 2014.
“When people get behind the wheel, they have a responsibility to themselves and to others to drive safely,” State Representative John D’Amico (D-Chicago), a co-sponsor of the bill, said. “When motorists are on the phone, they are not giving their full attention to the most important task they have. This law will help reduce traffic accidents and make Illinois roads safer.”
House Bill 2585 increases the penalties that can be imposed on drivers whose use of an electronic device while driving causes an accident. If the accident causes great bodily harm, the driver can be sentenced to up to 1 year in prison, and a fatal accident can result in a prison sentence of 1 to 3 years. Current law only allows these drivers to be charged with traffic violations. The new law takes effect January 1, 2014.
“Distracted driving is not only dangerous—it’s deadly,” Governor Quinn said in a press release. “Too many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been prevented. Anyone driving a car should be careful, responsive, and alert behind the wheel. These new laws will save lives.”
Drivers involved in injury-causing accidents could face up to a year in prison
“If somebody was in a school zone talking on a cell phone and they ran someone over, and if they hurt them severely or killed them, they’d get written up for a $200 ticket. That’s it,” said state Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet), the bill’s chief House sponsor.
“We’ve seen more horrific things by people distracted by video devices or cell phones, and the penalties on the books for those crimes are no more than a petty offense. It’s like their tail lights are out,” she said. “The main goal is public safety, and at the end of the day that’s what we really want.”
Despite the growing push to require drivers to put their phones on speaker or use a headset, researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have found little difference between drivers who use hand-held cell phones and those who use hands-free devices.
Rather, researchers contend that all cell phone use is equally distracting once a conversation starts, noting that accident rates did not change in other states that have implemented bans on hand-held phones behind the wheel.