Distracted driving has become an epidemic in Illinois. From 2008 to 2012, nearly 6,000 crashes occurred in which some form of driver distraction involving a cellphone was cited by police. Thirty of them were fatal.
At any given time of day, about 800,000 people are using hand-held cellphones while driving, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. And, drivers using hand-held cellphones are four times more likely to get into a crash that causes injuries.
To help combat this dangerous and deadly problem, in August 2013, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a ban on hand-held cellphones while driving on Illinois roads and increased penalties where use of an electronic device leads to a crash resulting in serious injuries.
The Illinois Tollway, Illinois Secretary of State, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and AAA Chicago are working together to educate drivers about these new laws that took effect January 1, 2014.
Illinois is the 12th state to ban the use of hand-held devices while driving:
- The new law bans hand-held cellphone use except in an emergency and allows only for speakerphones and headsets that feature voice-activated or one-digit dialing.
- The new law imposes fees starting at $75 for drivers caught using a hand-held cellphone while driving. Drivers could pay $150 for repeat offenses and may eventually have their drivers' licenses suspended.
- The new law imposes stricter penalties following crashes in which electronic devices were being used at the time of collision. A crash causing great bodily harm can earn a driver up to one year in prison and a fatal crash can result in a prison sentence of up to three years.
There are many ways you can help spread the word about the new hand-held cellphone ban in Illinois.
- Post a poster or flier in your office, community center or place of worship.
- Broadcast a public service announcement on your cable access network or post a link to it from your website.
- Post the logo on your Facebook page or Twitter account.
- Request a window cling to place on your car window to remind other drivers not to use their hand-held cellphones while driving.
- Place an article in your newsletter.
- Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
- Sound Off! Tell us your story about the dangers of using a hand-held cellphone while driving.
I saw a very scary moment that could have ended up getting someone killed if I wasn't paying attention today. I was driving on U.S. Route 24 between I-55 and Illinois Route 47. A driver in a Honda Civic decided to pass another vehicle in the oncoming lane. The Civic's driver didn't use a signal while changing lanes. As he completed the pass, I saw a phone up to his ear and he was close enough to my 18-wheeler that I had to apply the brakes... hard. The driver didn't even see my rig because he was passing on a small hill and his eyes were off the road (perhaps dialing a number). I don't want to see anyone driving distracted and dangerously. I hope everyone gets the message and the window clings might help me spread the Drop It and Drive message more easily.
I can't stand witnessing people texting and/or talking on their cellphone while driving! I live directly across the street from an elementary school and I'm sickened at how many people drive over the speed limit and are texting simultaneously while small children are all around the sidewalk areas. If I could issue tickets for the village of Wilmette, I would be writing tickets all day!
I have long ago installed total hands-free communications in my vehicle. It is so much easier than holding a cellphone and trying to drive at the same time. It has the added benefit of being vastly safer, as well. I am always frustrated by people driving erratically near me only to see them on the phone. There have been several times that I've had to alter my path and come close to an accident due to someone in another vehicle using a cellphone and not paying attention to the task at hand – which should be their driving!
Thank you for an excellent campaign against distracted driving. I believe this slogan and critical message will appeal to and educate drivers of all ages. As a police chief, I understand how imperative it is to educate and enforce the use of cellphones while driving. My officers are looking for drivers using cellphones because we want to save lives and minimize potential accidents. Many drivers just don't understand how a split second can be the difference between life and death. Today, people are driving faster and closer to the vehicle in front of them and I feel this campaign will save lives. Thank you for your consideration and keep up the outstanding work!
ONCE and only once, while I was waiting for a bus in Cicero, I saw a woman pull over, make what appeared to be a text message and then continue driving. This was, sadly, a most remarkable event to witness. I was dumbfounded. I wanted to congratulate that woman.
My wife and I were stopped on I-55 South for road construction and were rear-ended by an uninsured motorist who was on her phone. The impact caused our vehicle to slide, roll twice and land on the guard rail. We ended up in the hospital, miraculously only requiring three stitches for my wife. People need to put the phone down and pay attention to their driving.
I drive my daughter to school every day and see way too many people on their phones either texting or talking. There are way too many distractions each day as we are traveling to work, school or just doing errands. If people can see the Drop It and Drive window stickers on the cars, maybe they will think about their safety, as well as others when they decide to use their phone behind the wheel of a car.
- 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. Of those, 30 were fatal. (Illinois Department of Transportation)
- In 2012, cellphone distractions were the primary or secondary cause of more than 1,200 crashes in Illinois. (Illinois Department of Transportation)
- Drivers using hand-held phones are four times more likely to get into an accident causing injuries. (U.S. Department of Transportation)
- At any given time of day, about 800,000 drivers are using hand-held phone while driving. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
- Cellphone conversations are involved in 12 times as many crashes as texting. (National Safety Council)
- About 1.3 million crashes nationwide—or 23 percent of the annual total—involve drivers using cellphones. (National Safety Council)
- More than 3,300 fatalities a year–about 10 percent of all traffic deaths—occur nationally as a result of districted driving. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
- About 21 percent of teenage drivers who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted by cellphone use when the crash occurred. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
- Distracted driving is the lead cause of fatal crashes among teens. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
- Sending or receiving a text at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blind. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
If you must talk on the phone, use a speakerphone or headset that allows for voice-activated or one-digit dialing. Both are allowed under the state's new hands-free cellphone law. Here are some other tips to avoid distracted driving:
- Turn it off. Shut off your cellphone before you get in your car, then stow it out of sight and out of reach.
- Stop first. If you have to make a call, pull over to a safe area, such as a rest stop or oasis, to make your call.
- Ask a passenger. Have a passenger make a call or respond to a text for you.
- Take control. Set climate controls and adjust seat and steering wheel before driving.
- Spread the word. Record a message on your phone that warns callers you're driving and will get back to them later – or sign up for a service that offers this feature.
- Be prepared. Program navigational devices or review written directions before you start to drive.
- Finish first. Complete your personal grooming, dressing and eating before hitting the road.
- Buckle up. Secure children and pets before beginning to drive. If they need attention, pull over before tending to them.
- 2007: Distracted Drivers Task Force formed to study distracted driving in Illinois, with Secretary of State Jesse White as chairman.
- August 2009: Governor Pat Quinn signs bill banning texting while driving. Law goes into effect on January 1, 2010.
- July 2012: Governor Quinn signs law banning commercial truck drivers from using hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel. Law takes effect January 1, 2013.
- May 2013: Illinois House and Senate approve law barring all hand-held cellphone use by all drivers. Governor Quinn signs the law on August 16.
- January 2014: New law banning hand-held cellphone use takes effect in Illinois.
Other Resources and More Information