Sunday, September 10, 2017

Illinois Bicyclist Killed By Driver On Cell Phone

An Illinois bicyclist has lost his life as a result of a teenage driver being distracted by her cell phone. According to reports, David P. Weber of Venedy, Illinois was riding his Specialized Roubaix bicycle eastbound on Illinois 15 when he was rear ended by a teenage motorist traveling in the same direction. Mr. Weber was thrown from his bicycle and later died of the injuries he sustained in the crash. The crash occurred just after 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 7, 2017.

The Illinois State Police charged the driver with failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash, improper passing of a bicycle and illegal cell phone usage. Illinois law requires drivers to give at least 3-feet when passing a bicyclist. The "three foot rule" provides the following:
(625 ILCS 5/11‑703) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑703)
Sec. 11‑703. Overtaking a vehicle on the left. The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules otherwise stated in this Chapter:
(d) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.
Illinois law also prohibits talking on a cell phone unless using a "hands free" mode and any texting or dissemination of electronic information. Ironically, this very law came into existence when another Illinois bicyclist was killed by a driver who was distracted while downloading a song on her cell phone. The Illinois law banning "texting while driving" went into effect on January 1, 2010 and is set forth in Illinois Vehicle Code at 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2.
(625 ILCS 5/12-610.2) Sec. 12-610.2. Electronic communication devices.
(a) As used in this Section:
"Electronic communication device" means an electronic device, including but not limited to a hand-held wireless telephone, hand-held personal digital assistant, or a portable or mobile computer, but does not include a global positioning system or navigation system or a device that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle.
(b) A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device. 
(b-5) A person commits aggravated use of an electronic communication device when he or she violates subsection (b) and in committing the violation he or she was involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, disfigurement, or death to another and the violation was a proximate cause of the injury or death.
This crash is a tragic reminder of the incredible dangers Illinois bicyclists face on the state's roadways and how vulnerable we are when motorists do not obey the laws put in place to protect bicyclists. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of David Weber. May he rest in peace.