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July Brings New Changes to Distracted Driving Penalty

July 1st marks the inauguration of new distracted driving enforcements. Illinois state representatives and law enforcement officials are tightening the reigns on the citations given when a driver is in violation of distracted driving laws. Using a cellphone while driving is prohibited in the state of Illinois however, just a warning will no longer be issued on the first offense. A moving violation will be given along with a fine of $75. For every offense following the fine will increase as follows, 2nd offense $100, 3rd offense $125, and $150 for all future offenses. This law is not only limited to cellphones but will apply to all electronic communication devices. These new rules are being put into place to help us prevent fatal automobile collisions by eliminating distractions and focusing on the road at all times.

Distracted driving is any activity that takes your attention away from driving. With about 1,000 reported accidents, 9 people die each day from distracted drivers.

What are the types of distracted driving?

There are three main types. Visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual, includes anything that could cause you to take your eyes off of the road. Manual, meaning anything that would cause you to take your hands off the steering wheel. Cognitive, anything that would cause your mind to drift. Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. When you send or read a text message you are taking your eyes off the road for about five seconds. This is the same amount of time it takes to cover the length of a football field if you are traveling at 55 MPH. It is important to assume responsibility for our actions and implement preventative measures into our daily routines that can help protect ourselves and others. Installing hands-free devices or placing your cellphone out of arms reach will both reduce distractions and make the roads safer for everyone.

Who is the most at risk?

Teenage drivers under the age of twenty are the most at risk. This age group has the highest percentage of distraction-related fatal collisions.  In a study, 42% of high school drivers, who had reported driving in the past 30 days, reported sending a text or email while driving. Those who have reported texting while driving are more likely to drive without wearing a seatbelt, more likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking, and more likely to drink and drive. These are the types of situations these new laws aim to abolish. In the past year, Illinois law enforcement officials issued 15,150 distracted driving violations.

Distracted driving is a dangerous activity and should not be taken light-heartedly. We must hold ourselves accountable but unfortunately, we cannot always be responsible for the actions of others. If you or a loved one have fallen victim to an accident due to distracted driving you may be eligible for compensation from the responsible party to help with your injuries, property damages, and emotional and physical suffering. Call a Spiros Law attorney in our Danville office at (217) 443-4343 to explore your options.


National Teen Driver Safety Week

October 21-27 is the 11th annual National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTSDW). This week is dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to prevent teen injuries and deaths on the road. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens (15 to 18 years) in the US, and in 2015, 1,972 teen drivers were involved in fatal traffic crashes. National Teen Driver Safety Week is a week that parents are encouraged to have conversations with their teens about safety tips when behind the wheel, helping them to avoid becoming another statistic. Teens look at receiving their license as a step toward freedom, but it is important that you provide rules and regulations for them, because teen drivers are not ready to have the same level of responsibility behind the wheel as adults. Some of the most important issues to address are alcohol use, inconsistent or no seatbelt use, distracted driving, drowsy driving, speeding, etc.

One local group, The Future Problem Solvers Club at Danville High School, is doing a great job promoting messages to keep teens safe behind the wheel. Future Problem Solvers is an international competition program that teaches students how to use a problem-solving method that allows them to identify a local topic of concern, and then work to develop a plan of action to improve the situation. Their most recent project was called “Project Ignition”, which is focused on safe driving in the community. They are working hard researching different ways to improve road safety.

Project Ignition wants to bring attention to weather and road conditions, issues beyond the driver’s control, which are a major cause of road accidents. They recognize that issues such as texting, alcohol, and not wearing a seatbelt are huge factors in causing road accidents, but wanted to bring light to the issues that are often overlooked. To do this, the team launched their own driving safety campaign, providing tips and awareness for teen drivers all over the area.

An issue they came across during their research was Interstate 74 between the Champaign and Vermillion county lines. This stretch of interstate is surrounded by open fields, causing wind speeds to increase significantly, leading to more accidents. When drivers make contact with these high winds, they can easily lose control of their vehicles, leading to accidents. In fact, they found that this part of the interstate has more accidents and fatalities than any other part. The team is now working with city and road officials to put warning signs along this part of the interstate, in the hopes of warning drivers along this stretch of I-74. The team runs under the motto, “We are ALL the KEY to road safety”, and that is an important motto for us drivers to be reminded of. To find out more about Project Ignition, check out their Facebook page. 

Your role in keeping your teens informed about the rules of the road is vital. The following tips will allow you to help your teen avoid any accidents on the road.

  • Invest in a safe driving course.
  • Talk to them about ALL the risks that come with driving.
  • Set realistic boundaries, and stick to them.
  • Rid of any common distractions in the teen’s vehicle.
  • Most importantly, practice what you preach.

Remember to stay informed, and keep your teen drivers informed to avoid any future tragedies on the road.