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April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Written by Ankin Law Office

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the U.S. Department of Transportation is getting out the message that “One Text or Call Could Wreck it All.”

Throughout the country, states are enacting efforts to improve driver safety and reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents.

According to the DOT, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and more than 200 local law enforcement agencies have been cracking down on drivers who text message and talk on their cell phones behind the wheel.  California law makes it illegal to text and talk on a hand-held cell phone while driving, and since the state ban went into effect, road fatalities have fallen by 22 percent.

Many states are utilizing campaigns to educate drivers on the importance of traffic safety and avoiding distracted driving.  In California, the Office of Traffic Safety’s campaign used the tagline of “Don’t be a zombie behind the wheel.”

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin made visits to three different high schools to sign the state’s new texting and hand-held cell phone ban, which makes texting behind the wheel a primary traffic offense starting in July 2012.  Talking on a hand held cell phone will be a secondary offense beginning in July 2012, but will become a primary offense in July 2013.

As we reported, a new law prohibits the use of hand-held mobile devices by commercial drivers are they are on the job and on the road.  Late last year, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended a nationwide ban on the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices while driving a car.

Earlier this year, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban all cell phone use while driving in the State of Illinois, unless the driver is using a hand-free device.

Currently, Illinois and Chicago laws and ordinances prohibit the following use of electronic devices while driving:

  • Drivers under the age of 19 are prohibited from using wireless phones (with or without hands-free devices) while driving.
  • All drivers are prohibited from text messaging, emailing, and using the Internet while driving.
  • Drivers are prohibited from using cellular phones in school speed zones and construction/road maintenance zones.
  • In Chicago, all drivers talking on mobile phones must use hands-free devices.