Recently, a 23-year-old woman driving on Highway 53 in Illinois crashed into the back of a pickup truck parked on the left shoulder, crushing a man between the median and his truck. The woman admitted she was scrolling through the contact list on her cell phone when she veered into the right lane, struck a car, and then ran off the road to the left hitting the truck, where the man was changing a tire. The woman was cited with texting while driving, improper lane change, and driving on the shoulder of the road.
Illinois is one of 34 states in the U.S. that has a law prohibiting the use of “an electronic communication device to compose, send or read an electronic message” while driving. The law, which went into effect January 1, 2010, imposes a fine of at least $75.
Under Illinois law, the term “electronic message” includes text messages, instant messages, and “a command or request to access an Internet site.”
Exceptions to the law include law enforcement officers performing official duties; a driver who is reporting an emergency situation and continuing communication with emergency personnel; a driver using an electronic communication device in “hands-free or voice-activated mode;” commercial vehicle drivers reading messages on permanently installed commercial vehicle devices; a driver parked on the shoulder of the road; and a driver whose car is in neutral or park and is stopped in traffic due to the traffic being obstructed.
Unlike most states, Illinois law makes texting while operating a motor vehicle a moving violation, making it a primary offense. This means police can stop and cite a driver upon observing the offense. In states where the offense is secondary, the police must observe the driver committing some other primary offense in order to conduct a stop, making enforcement of the law difficult.
In the wake of continuous studies that prove distracted driving causes accidents, some South Chicago motor vehicle accident attorneys are hopeful more and more states will ban the use of mobile devices while driving and help decrease the number of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities every year.