2014 cell phone ban while driving
While many roadways across the U.S. have banned handheld devices while behind the wheel for a number of years, Illinois has followed suit with a new law, signed earlier this year, that will make holding a cell phone up to your ear while driving illegal effective January 1.
The new law states that “A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device.” This means put down the phone and plug in your hands-free device, or you stand to pay a stiff penalty.
The intent of the ban is to cut down on accidents due to distracted driving. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drivers using hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into an accident causing injuries, and distracted driving caused 387,000 injuries and more than 3,000 fatalities across the country in 2011. Illinois joins 11 other states and the District of Columbia in banning the use of hand-held devices while driving.
First-time offenders will receive a $75 citation, and the fines go up to $150 for multiple offenders.
The law includes a number of exceptions, such as:
- A driver using an electronic communication device for the sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation and continued communication with emergency personnel during the emergency situation.
- A driver using an electronic communication device in hands-free or voice-operated mode, which may include the use of a headset. (Current Illinois law states that the cell phone headset must be single sided – i.e. one ear only.)
- A driver using an electronic communication device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway.
- A driver using an electronic communication device when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the vehicle is in neutral or park.
- A driver using an electronic communication device by pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication.
Dr. Charles Nozicka, medical director of pediatric emergency medicine at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., says, “There are about 5,000 traffic fatalities each year nationally—and about half of those are associated with distracted driving, while the other half are alcohol-related. So this law hopefully will help to lower these alarming numbers.”
Dr. Nozicka also adds a special warning to parents of teen drivers.
“It’s crucial for parents to model good behavior—so that means not trying to make just one phone call or send just one text while behind the wheel,” he says. “The strongest component of risk avoidance for distracted driving is parents’ modeled behavior.”
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