The safe operation of a motor vehicle requires constant attention to the road and driving conditions. For this reason, the State of Illinois has passed several laws that prohibit the use of cell phones, tablets, and other devices while motorists are driving down the roads.
Over the past year, law enforcement agencies in the state have been rigorously enforcing these laws and Chicago car accident lawyers are using these laws in court to pursue cases against drivers who have negligently flaunted them causing serious injury or death in the process. What began with a series of warnings as these laws came into effect has now transformed into an increased number of citations being issued for texting and driving, and talking and driving offenses.
These laws are having an impact, however, there are some who still don’t understand that it is illegal to text and drive. In the early morning hours of October 5th, Jessica Bahena-Alvarez, 19, was driving in Chicago when she began checking texts on her phone. Her vehicle veered off the road and struck Joseph McInerney, 54. The impact was so severe that it knocked McInerney’s shoes off and he suffered massive head trauma. He died at St. Margaret Mercy Hospital. Compounding the seriousness of the accident, Bahena-Alvarez fled the scene. Fortunately, the quick thinking actions of a nearby tow truck driver ensured police had her license plate number which they used to apprehend her.
Drivers are permitted to use hands-free devices such as bluetooth and speakerphones while they are driving. However, there are exclusions. All cell phone use is prohibited while traveling trhough school zones or highway construction zones. Further, novice drivers are never allowed to use their phones in any way while operating a motor vehicle. The only exception when a driver may use their hand-held device while driving is to report an emergency situation to emergency personnel.
Drivers failing to comply with the law may be fined $75. In Illinois, it is considered a primary offense which means that a police officer may stop you specifically for the infraction.
The law is working and the has seen a considerable drop in the number of fatalities over the past year. In 2014, the state expereicned 685 fatalies by this time, whereas this year it has decreased to 636. Further, the number of accidents is decreasing as well, to just under 290,000 across the state.