Written by Douglas Edwin   
Wednesday, 01 January 2014 00:00

In an effort to make Illinois roads safe, multiple new driving laws are set to take effect January 1st.

Starting on January 1st the use of a hand held cell phone while driving will be illegal. Those who want to talk on the phone while driving will now have to use either a headset or a car built-in speaker phone. 

“Distracted driving is not only dangerous - it’s deadly,” Governor Quinn said. “Too many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been prevented. Anyone driving a car should be careful, responsive and alert behind the wheel. These new laws will save lives.”

Illinois is the 12th state to ban the use of hand-held devices while driving. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drivers using hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into an accident causing injuries.

“When people get behind the wheel, they have a responsibility to themselves and to others to drive safely,” State Representative John D’Amico said. “When motorists are on the phone, they are not giving their full attention to the most important task they have. This law will help reduce traffic accidents and make Illinois roads safer.”

First offenders of the new law can be fined a maximum of $75. 

In addition to banning hand held cell phones while driving, another new law taking effect on January 1st will increase the penalties for accidents caused by the use of an electronic device. 

Under the new law, if an accident causes great bodily harm a driver can be sentenced to up to one year in prison. If the accident is fatal, a driver can be sentenced from one to three years in prison. 

“After passing legislation to ban the use of cell phones in work and school zones, I felt that we needed to enhance the penalties for causing an accident while talking on a cell phone.” Senator Martin Sandoval, sponsor of the bill, said. “This measure will increase roadway safety throughout the state and bring additional attention to the dangers of being on a cell phone while behind the wheel.”

Also taking effect on January 1st is a new law that raises the maximum speed limit in Illinois from 65 mph to 70 mph.

The law also includes a safety provision which will lower the limit by five mph at which drivers can be charged with excessive speeding. The threshold for excessive speeding penalties will go from 31 mph over the speed limit, to 26 mph over the limit.

“This limited five miles-per-hour increase will bring Illinois’ rural interstate speed limits in line with our neighbors and the majority of states across America, while preventing an increase in excessive speeding.” Governor Quinn said. “I encourage all motorists to continue to respect our traffic laws, avoid distractions and exercise common sense behind the wheel to protect the safety of themselves and others.”

With the new law, Illinois joins 36 other states with speed limits of 70 mph or higher, including neighboring states Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 14:56
 
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