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Illinois introduces three safety laws

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has announced that three important pieces of legislation are now in effect, which are aimed at reducing cell phone use while driving and clearing lanes of traffic immediately following crashes. Senate Bill 2488 prohibits cell phone use in construction or maintenance speed zones regardless of the speed limit in those zones. Motorists can use cell phones in voice-operated mode, which includes the use of a headset or cell phones used with single button activation. Prior to the passage of this law, the speed limit in a work zone had to be lower than the posted speed limit, or it was not actually considered a work zone by the definition in statute and the higher ticket did not apply. Voice activated use of cell phone was permitted prior to this change.

House Bill 5101 prohibits texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle and makes this a serious traffic violation. Previously, Illinois law prohibited texting while driving for all vehicles, but cell phones were permitted. Illinois statutes were since amended to be in compliance with the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (MCSR) law that prohibits texting and cell phone use by commercial vehicle drivers. Fire trucks, police vehicles and other emergency response vehicles are exempt from the new law. “People are tragically injured and killed in work zones and by commercial motor vehicles due to distracted driving. Cell phone distractions have been proven to be as dangerous as drinking and driving,” said Illinois transportation secretary, Ann L Schneider. “These laws will stiffen distracted driving laws and save lives.”

The third new law, Senate Bill 3409, allows the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting only in damage to that vehicle to move it off the highway to the nearest safe location. The locations for the driver to consider are an exit ramp shoulder, a frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other locations that will not obstruct traffic. The law states the driver should remain at that location until the requirements are fulfilled concerning the duty to give information and render aid. The new law clarifies the previous statute and explains that moving vehicles to safety will not violate the existing legislation. Schneider explained, “The decisions made immediately following a crash are critical. This law will reduce the chances of further injury and secondary crashes, by allowing able vehicles to clear the roadway following a crash.”

January 22, 2013

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