Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on March 14th, 2014,
by Zane Cagle

Distracted Driving Fines Go Up in Illinois

Posted on March 14th, 2014 by Zane Cagle

Statistics confirm what most of us already know: distracted driving is dangerous and deadly.

Drop It And DriveThis past summer, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a ban on the use of hand-held cellphones while driving in Illinois and increased penalties where use of electronic device leads to a crash resulting in serious injuries.

The Illinois law prohibits motorists from talking on all but hands-free mobile phones while driving.  If you get caught talking, texting or surfing the Web while driving under the law, the fines start at $75.00  Repeat offenders could pay $150 and face having their driver’s license suspended. Drivers who cause fatal crashes while using hand-held electronic devices could serve up to three years in prison.

Does this law seem too aggressive?  Maybe to some, but for several years there have been literally hundreds of awareness internet articles and news reports talking about the dangers of distracted driving, yet many continue to ignore and use their cell phones or surf the web while driving.

In Illinois, nearly 6,000 crashes occurred from 2008 to 2012 in which some form of driver distraction involving a cellphone was cited by police according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.  Of those crashes, 30 were fatal.  Of course, there are still car crashes that may involve cell phone use and distracted driving that are never reported.

Drop It and Drive

Distracted driving perhaps causes more accidents than drunk driving in the U.S.  The U.S. Department of Transportation says that drivers using hand-held phones are four times more likely to get into an accident causing injuries. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that more than 3,300 fatalities nationwide–about 10 percent of all traffic deaths occur as a result of distracted driving-3,300!

We have heard many slogans from many different groups from state transportation agencies to insurance jingles talking about the importance of not using your cell phone while driving.  Illinois launched “Drop It And Drive” as an awareness campaign to remind drivers to put their phone away and concentrate on driving. The odds are good that you have had an experience where someone was all over the road, in your lane or almost hit you because they were on their cell phone and you were infuriated!  What could be so important that they could not pay attention to the road?  But then, maybe you have been guilty of it as well.  Many do not see it as such as big deal, since we are on our phones all of the time and it just seems natural to talk and drive because we talk on the phone while we do everything else.  But the statistics and horrific examples are there, maybe you have had a personal experience with it.  If it is such a crucial time to use your phone, then pull over as it probably requires your full attention.  Driving is also something that we just do all the time. It’s often a necessity and we frequently try to multitask, but driving is not a multitasking activity.

Distracted Driving Is One of the Number One Causes of Car Accidents

Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents and tragic because it is completely preventable.  Making a choice to surf the web, text or return emails is a choice that a driver makes and when it causes or contributes to a car accident, it is negligent behavior. Other common causes of car accidents include speeding, drunk driving, reckless driving, and driver fatigue, but the most common is simply distracted or inattentiveness.

Rarely does someone intentionally cause a car accident, but sometimes due to the choices they make, they are negligent.  You may not being thinking at the time, “I’m being negligent”, because if that crossed your mind, you would probably stop and make a different choice.  These choices are choices that we make without really thinking at all:  “I’m just going to answer this call so I’m sure of the address”, “If I can go a little faster, I won’t be late to this appointment” or “I’m tired, but I can drive an hour to get to there so I don’t have to get up and drive it in the morning”.  These are common things we have all said to ourselves and rationale for why we drive using a hand-held device, speed or drive fatigued.

So many times, we speed, drive distracted or drive when we are utterly exhausted and yet, we arrive safely thus confirming in our minds that it really is not that dangerous.  However, it only takes one time of not arriving safely or injuring another person to make you regret the decision to drive while distracted, fatigued or speed.

If you have been a victim of a car accident where the other driver was using a hand held device, you may need legal representation in order to get the compensation that you deserve.  Distracted driving has not been discussed as “criminal” like drunk driving and traditionally, there have not been criminal charges attached to distracted driving. But new Illinois law makes headway to concentrating on consequences for making negligent choices such as texting and driving.  Our attorneys are available seven days a week to give you a free case evaluation, confidentially. Call us locally, (314) 276-1681 or toll free (314) 276-1681