A new Illinois law will make reading, writing, or sending text messages while driving illegal. The bill, which was signed into law in August, will amend the Illinois Vehicle Code rendering the use of mobile devices for texting a moving violation. The Illinois bill reportedly does not make exceptions for drivers that pull over or otherwise park to engage in text messaging. Illinois is now joining a host of other states with similar texting bans including Oregon, New Hampshire, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
The new law is set to take effect on January 1st of 2010 and comes on the heels of both local and national tragedies linking texting to fatal accidents. The state legislature was persuaded by a fatal September 2006 bicycle accident in which a distracted driver killed a texting bicycle rider. The bicyclist was a student at the University of Illinois. National coverage of incidents related to driving while texting has also spurred the Illinois bill. This September, a California commuter train engineer failed to yield to a stop signal causing a collision that killed 25 people. An investigation of the fatal incident determined that the driver was trading text messages with a friend when the accident occurred.
The new law is also backed by studies showing that texting while driving is more dangerous than talking on, reaching for, or listening to a mobile device. The texting ban is intended to deter Illinois motorists from sending or receiving text messages while driving. If you have any questions regarding the new Illinois law, or would like to speak to a Chicago area attorney, please click here.