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. *We're sorry, but due to overwhelming demand, the window cling is no longer available.
- 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.
A couple years ago I was working at a car wash with the kids from my youth group. The kids wanted to do the washing so another one of the parents and I were holding signs. Just to pass time, we counted how many people where on the phone or texting while driving. We counted 14 in the first hour. What if one of our kids had run out into the road? The drivers wouldn't have had time to stop.
Shortly after the New Year, I was sitting in traffic on Belvidere Road. Traffic on both lanes going west and east was backed up and slow moving. I saw a guy on his cell texting in the opposite lane (it was getting dark and I could see the glow of the screen on his face). But, while he was so preoccupied with his social media activities, his car was slowing rolling and he didn't realize it. He rolled right into the stopped vehicle in front of him! When he looked up from his phone, he looked surprised that he bumped another car. I remember thinking, well, if you'd put down the phone and focus on driving, it would have never had happened! Luckily, that one was minor and hopefully that driver learned his lesson the hard way. There are too many accidents (minor and fatal) caused by distracted drivers. The Drop It and Drive campaign is a great way to convey the message that even though we live busy lives, we should be smart and stay safe to continue living our busy lives.
As a driver trainer for a freight company, I am mad that so many people still use their cellphones and hand-held devices, even while driving commercial motor vehicles, and think nothing of it.
I also am a certified motorcycle safety instructor and I cringe when drivers do not see me on my motorcycle while they are on their cellphone! I'm NOT SORRY for blowing my obnoxiously loud horn to get the attention that assures me that I won't be run over!
My brother who also rides motorcycles was involved in a deadly crash that killed or seriously injured members of a group who were out for a Saturday ride on Illinois Route 47 just past Sugar Grove. My brother was fortunate to walk (limp) away.
I want to help champion the cause to drop the phone and drive.
I find hand-held devices to be horrific, life-alternating inventions when motorists all around me continue to feel they can do two vital tasks at one time. Don't attempt to text/talk and drive!
I am a firm believer in never ever using a cellphone while driving. I've had a cellphone for well over 10 years and I always followed the law even then. Pull over and talk.
I think the number of people who I see driving and using an electronic device is concerning and I am trying to raise awareness at my work.
Since the law has enforced hands-free, I use a Bluetooth device. I still see drivers EVERY DAY talking on a hand-held device while driving to work. More people need to learn about this law.
The radio itself is enough distraction and adding a live conversation can injure/kill oneself and or someone else's love one! Life is too short and precious to give it away to a phone call!—Lauren C., Country Club Hills
I am in the transportation business and take distracted driving very seriously.
My cellphone is only on in the event of an accident. I cannot go anywhere without seeing a car not maintaining speed or not going in a straight line in my lane. I have had them turn in front of me without realizing they should wait until I pass them. So many don't use their signals when changing lanes or when making a turn at a stop sign or light.
I am constantly reminding my children to PUT DOWN THEIR PHONES when they drive.
I see a lot of people still texting and driving. Not only will putting the phone down save their lives, but it will save others' lives. Without the phone in their hand, they can focus more on the road.
I still see too many people driving and talking on their phones, which I feel is very dangerous to those of us on the roads paying attention to driving safely! Sometimes, I wish I had a sign to put out my window to show the drivers that are on their phones to get off their phones...it's the law!!!
I do a lot of local driving and I'm sick and tired of these people who sit at a red light and have no idea the light has turned green. They then get mad at me for honking my horn to get their attention. At that point they go racing through the light almost causing an accident. I have a lot more stories like that one.
I see people driving one-handed and distracted all the time because they are talking on their cellphones. I had a man driving a pickup truck with a snowplow blade on the front of it following too close to my vehicle going south on LaGrange Road in Orland Park. I have been hit in the back four times and am very sensitive to drivers stopping or following too close to the back of my vehicle.
Ninety-nine percent of all drivers on Illinois roads use their cellphones, even the semi-truck drivers. I drive back and forth to Indiana on I-80 and the Borman Expressway six days a week and everyone is on their cellphone. Nobody cares about the new law. I even see the police on cellphones (while) driving their cars. It is so out of control.
I was rear-ended by a teenage girl using her cellphone. I have a teenage girl driving now and a young adult son who need reminders as well as the adults.
I was driving behind a young woman on I-294 who you could tell kept looking down and up real fast; she was obviously texting. Made me so mad, she was driving slower than she should have on the expressway and could have caused an accident. She would go slow, then fast to catch up.
I see so many people who are still driving and using their cellphones, ignorant of the new law, or they just don't care. I want to encourage everyone that I know to drop it and drive.
I cannot recount how many times I have been lucky enough to avoid injury since texting on phones became vogue. We literally take our lives into others' hands now when we drive. I do not see much change since the law came into effect.
In my area, it is very common to see drivers using cellphones while driving, which I detest because of the danger it poses.
I don't text and don't plan on it . My motto is, "I don't text and you can't make me!"
I learned the hard way by getting a ticket for using a cellphone in a construction zone. Wisconsin does not have those laws, so I did not know. I now use Bluetooth headsets or link my phone to the Garmin so I can talk hands free.
I see more people holding their phones now than before the law was passed.
It makes me CRAZY to see the number of drivers on their cellphones during my daily commute, putting me and my son at risk.
I have always felt that people driving while on their phones are an extremely dangerous hazard to other drivers. I'm so glad the law was passed!
I am very against any type of distraction while driving. I feel nothing is more important than one's life. It can wait. Nobody needs to text while driving, EVER!!!! I wish the laws were stronger and the fines even higher for first offenses. I see people still using their phones while behind the wheel.
Too many times we bus drivers see autos swerving and drivers texting. Is there any way the state can make a hotline to report all these idiots? Then, after so many warnings, they can get a citation.
I learned early on that trying to navigate with one hand was not safe. On top of the distraction of conversation, the hand-help device became an impediment to safe driving both in looking down at it to punch buttons and hold it while driving. I stopped doing this prior to the law change and am upset that I still see people ignoring the hand-held ban.
In my commute almost every day, the slow cars that are impeding traffic not paying attention to the cars around them are on the darn cell phones. All I can do to shame them is wiggle my index finger at them.
I think this is a great campaign and I hope it works; we need to get the word out to those who do not know the new law! I am tired of driving down the Tollway only to have people blow by me talking on their cell phones!
I don't use my cellphone while driving. It's scary to see all the drivers around me that are using theirs. You can tell because their head is down while texting and they keep a one- to two-car length distance in front of them to prevent an accident. NOT TOO BRIGHT!
Several times in the last few weeks I have observed two different drivers texting to the point of not paying any attention to the cars around them, driving too slow for conditions and not caring. They are dangerous and inconsiderate. I drove near one driver from Irving Park Road in Chicago all the way to Illinois Rout 53. It was rush hour so you know what problems and frustrations he was causing.
I repeat that warning or slogan all the time. A cellphone in one hand , expect a ticket in the other.—Mark R., Park Forest
I witnessed a near-accident because the driver was busy on the phone and didn't look up to see that they were going through a red light. I am tired of people not paying attention to the road because they are on their phone - even though the law has been in effect for three months.
What took so long to get fines for those using a cellphone while driving? Wish Iowa would adapt the same laws. It is difficult enough to drive while concentrating in any type of traffic, but heavy traffic (going to work and coming home) is especially difficult to do.
Heading south on I-294 just south of Cicero Avenue, I noticed a sub-compact car swerving. After two or three jerks left to right, it took a hard turn right directly into the shoulder wall. We pulled over to assist the one-car accident. It turns out the young girl was multitasking at the wheel. Her cigarette fell into her lap while she was on the phone. When I got to the car, she was still clutching her phone. The car was almost a total wreck. Just at that moment, an Illinois State Trooper pulled up to assist. Drop it and drive!
I drive a lot for work. I am constantly affected by those who slow down to talk on the phone and lose awareness. Slowing down doesn't make you safer, it makes you more dangerous.
I volunteer at my daughter's Catholic elementary school in Darien. Our school's parking lot is shared with our church and doubles as a playground. Many times I've witnessed parents dropping their children off while talking on their cell phones. I would love to donate a box of clings to distribute to parents at our school's next fundraiser in April. Making our school's parents aware of the new law and hoping the cling will remind them to "Drop it and Drive" is just a small effort on my part to help keep students safe on our school's parking lot/playground.
I have a cellphone and sometimes get calls on the road, but the first thing I do when I get into my car is turn on the [wireless] Bluetooth [device]. The cellphone craze is just terrible right now. You can't go anywhere without seeing people on their phones. It sucks to be on the road with people texting or doing whatever and causing accidents. My wife and I were struck by a [Ford] F-350 pickup truck at a stop light. They rear-ended us doing about 40 mph. As a result, she will always have back trouble. I had seen the driver look up from his lap and, even though we can't really prove it, we suspected he was on his phone. Give it a break, people. I want my family and I to live and I want you and your family to live. Let's put ‘em down and live.
I am a mother of an Illinois State Trooper, so I am concerned about people texting and talking on their phones while driving, that they may veer off and hit my son while he's helping someone alongside the road.
My sister was T-boned by a driver who was on her phone prior to this law being in place. Her car was wrecked, but she was okay. I have always been against texting [and] using my phone in the car. I have two young children and could not live with myself if I hurt them or anyone else from using my phone. It can wait. I have a [wireless] Bluetooth device in the car but I still feel like it can wait. I would like to support this cause anyway I can.
I just want to give my peace of mind to say that I am so pleased that Illinois passed this law about driving and talking. I drive 25 miles on I-294 every day and have seen the difference in the way people are driving straight now instead of all over. We now have to work on the people off the major roads. The ones that are still using their cellphones are still all over the road.
Too many folks out there are still talking on their hand-held cellphones on a daily basis. I can count at least 10 people chatting away each day on my 26-mile round trip to work, even with the new law in effect now. What is even worse is the amount of people that have their eyes pointed in their lap as they are either scrolling on their smartphones or texting while driving. That number is even higher than the folks talking on their phones and it is becoming a greater danger every day.
Everyone needs to know not to use their phones while driving – even in other states where it is still legal. It is especially dangerous for pedestrians! Drivers on phones never notice them. Try walking in downtown Milwaukee during Friday evening rush hour when everyone is making weekend plans instead of driving. I do have an I-PASS, so the cling will be a good reminder to cheeseheads crossing the border. And, maybe Wisconsin will get the law someday.
I personally do not use my cellphone while driving, but have seen numerous people using them (even dialing) while driving and almost causing an accident. I do have a cellphone, but have [wireless] Bluetooth [technology] in my auto and, if necessary, use it. I do try to pull over and call.
I have had several near-miss incidents with distracted drivers in the last year. I personally subscribe to the motto of "Shut up and Drive." Even having a conversation while driving is a distraction for me. So, my phone goes in my pocket and, when I can safely pull over and answer or make that call, I do that instead of becoming a hazard to myself or others. I feel it is better to be careful 1 million times than to be killed once.
I've made a concerted effort to not use my cellphone for calls while driving as much as possible. I think in the 10+ years I've had my license I've answered the phone without a hands-free device all of once when I first got my RAZR and couldn't get the speaker working. When I went iPhone in 2009, I made a personal pledge to not answer the phone while driving unless absolutely necessary – it's too hard to answer without looking at the phone. My voicemail even says that if I don't answer, I might be driving. So, I was ecstatic when this law went into effect and I want to make sure more people know because I still see SO MANY people on the phone not using hands-free devices.
[Members of] our whole family are strong believers in either hands-free [devices] or just turning the phone off when in the car. Nothing is that important. My husband and I commute over an hour each way to work and it is sickening how many times a week we nearly get hit by people driving and texting/talking on their phones. My dad is a truck driver and he constantly has the same issue. We all hope Illinois seriously starts to enforce this law and make our roads so much safer. Driving on the defensive is a given in Chicagoland area, but phones just make it downright dangerous.
The company I work for has a distracted driving standard that is a mandatory minimum requirement for all employees to follow. Our campus is working to improve current culture to reflect safety first and I would like to continue the message on into my daily commute. Sadly, I still see so many business drivers using hand-held devises during their commute, even through school zones, and I am hoping the use of the clings on either side of my vehicle would serve as a respectful reminder of our current law regarding hands-free cell use.
I had a friend who was talking, not texting, and driving. The semi in front of her had to quickly apply brakes and she went under the semi. Please note that I am referring to her in past tense.
I've lost count of the number of times I've been pushed into another lane or nearly off the road because of some driver who was too busy gabbing, eating, etc. We have a rule in our house for new drivers that stays in effect for at least one year (the friends one): The 3 Fs – no phone (or headphones/ear buds), no food [and] no friends riding with you. You flunk any one of these and you get grounded from the car. The 3 Fs: there's a slogan for you for distracted driving.
I retired in 2013 and was a certified flagger for 21 years. I know firsthand how DANGEROUS talking/texting while driving is. And, I am so happy to see this safety issue finally become law! This was one of my main issues I tried to bring awareness to. During these years I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Tom Broderick of the Construction Safety Council and he, along with his staff, worked hard to bring awareness to this problem. He has since retired, but I know he had pushed hard for this to become Law. At this time I would like to say "thank you" to all those who never gave up until this law was passed and to all of you at the Illinois Tollway for making this a important issue in your safety awareness program.
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.
Although I do not reside in Illinois, I frequently travel to Illinois. I was unaware of the new law [that bans the use of hand-held cellphones while driving]. However, as a paramedic who has been on many accident scenes as the cause of distracted driving, I applaud the new law and support it 150 percent. I hope it spreads to the state of Michigan.
- 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