It’s no secret that some individuals lead incredibly busy lives. As a result, they try to complete multiple tasks at one time. While individuals may think this is effective, it can turn deadly when behind the wheel of a car. It is incredibly dangerous to use a cell phone or other electronic device while driving. If you’ve been injured in one of the many distracted driving accidents that happen on a daily basis, you may benefit from reaching out to our Chicago car accident lawyers.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
An alarming number of traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths are linked to using a cell phone while driving. In order to really grasp how dangerous it can be to use an electronic device while operating a vehicle, let’s take a look at data from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Illinois State Police.
- Approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured every day in distracted driving incidents. Cell phone use contributes to a high number of those collisions.
- In 2015, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving crashes.
- In the United States, 660,000 drivers use their cell phones or other electronic devices during daylight hours.
- The majority of drivers who use cell phones while driving are between the ages of 16 and 24.
- Driver inattention costs nearly $40 billion each year.
Cell phone use causes traffic crashes because a driver’s cognitive performance significantly decreases when they are using a cell phone. In fact, the use of a cell phone while driving increase the likelihood of getting into a crash by 400 percent. This jarring increase has to do with how your brain handles multiple tasks at once.
Texting is also dangerous because the driver is taking their eyes away from the road and their hands away from the wheel. Driving demands a high level of concentration and attention. Using a cell phone compromises the safety of ourselves and the other people on the road.
Illinois Cell Phone Law
In order to prevent the injuries and deaths related to cell phone use while driving, the Illinois General Assembly enacted Statute 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2. This law pertains to the use of electronic communication devices while operating a vehicle. It outlines what drivers can and cannot do behind the wheel with a cell phone. While a previous, more lenient statute currently exists, amended legislation was recently approved on August 14, 2018 and goes into effect on July 1, 2019.
The amended statute defines “Electronic Communication Device” as follows: “’Electronic communication device” means an electronic device, including but not limited to hand-held wireless telephone, hand-held personal digital assistant or a portable or mobile computer, but does not include a global positioning system or navigation system or a device that is physically or electronically integrated into a motor vehicle.”
The amended statute prohibits drivers from using the devices listed above while operating a vehicle. A person can be charged with aggravated use of a cell phone if they choose to use a device while driving and an accident that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, disfigurement, or death to another and the violation is a proximate cause of the injury. A person convicted of such a violation that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to another commits a Class A misdemeanor. A person convicted of such a violation that results in death is guilty of a Class 4 felony.
Under the amended statute, if a person violates the law, does not cause an accident, but gets caught, they will be fined $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense, and $150 for a fourth offense.
Under the Amended statute, there are exceptions to this law, depending on the individuals and the circumstances at the time the cell phone is being used. The statute indicates that the law does not apply to:
- A law enforcement officer or operator of an emergency vehicle while performing his or her official duties;
- A driver using a cell phone or other 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 a cell phone or other electronic communication device in a hands-free or voice-operated mode, which may include the use of a headset;
- A driver of a commercial motor vehicle reading a message displayed on a permanently installed communication device designed for a commercial motor vehicle with a screen that does not exceed 10 inches tall by 10 inches wide in size;
- A driver using a cell phone or other electronic communication device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway;
- A driver using a cell phone or other electronic communication device when their car is stopped due to a normal traffic being obstructed and the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park;
- A driver using a two-way or citizens band radio services;
- A driver using two-way mobile radio transmitters or receivers for licensees of the Federal Communications Commission in the amateur radio service;
- A driver using an electronic communication device by pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication; or
- A driver using an electronic communication device capable of performing multiple functions other than hand-held personal digital assistant (for example, a fleet management system, dispatching device, citizen band radio or music player) for a purpose that is otherwise prohibited by this Section.
Our lawyers understand how traumatizing an auto collision can be and the difficulties to cope with knowing that the event could have been entirely prevented. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a distracted driving accident involving a cell phone or other electronic communication device, it’s important to explore your legal rights and options. We’ll help you receive the compensation you deserve, so you can recover and move on. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.