Monday, January 7, 2019

New Illinois Traffic Law to Fight Distracted Driving Epidemic and Protect Bicyclists

Bicyclists are often referred to as "vulnerable users" of the roadways. Even the most experienced bicyclist on the most advanced bicycle is at a disadvantage if there is a crash with even the smallest motor vehicle driven by a non-attentive motorist. Sheer physics are blind and unfortunately do not take into account fairness when a collision occurs and what might be a fender bender on a car can lead to serious or even fatal injuries to the bicyclist. Bicyclists are even more vulnerable in Illinois due to the state's sheer number of citizens and its densely populated urban centers including the metropolis of Chicago. A new 2019 law is designed to combat distracted driving and help reduce crashes and protect bicyclists. 

New Illinois Law To Fight Distracted Driving

The original law in Illinois to fight distracted driving was tragically borne by the death of a downstate bicyclist who was struck and killed by a driver downloading a ringtone on her cellphone. According to the current law in Illinois, distracted driving only get a warning and zero fine the first time they are caught using their phone behind the wheel. 

Starting on July 1, 2019, Illinois drivers that pay more attention to their phones will face stiffer penalties for distracted driving. Any driver caught using a phone while driving (other than talking on the phone with a hands-free connection) will face a fine of $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second ticket, $125 for a third ticket and $150 for a fourth or subsequent ticket for distracted driving. 

Studies Confirm Threat of Distracted Driving

The American Automobile Association's (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety recently published a study regarding distracted drivingThe study found that 88% of all drivers believe that distracted driving is a serious problem. Most alarming, the study from the AAA Foundation shows drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times as likely to crash while those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash. Data from the AAA study also showed: 
  • The proportion of drivers who report talking on a cell phone regularly or fairly often when behind the wheel increased 46% in the last five years. 
  • Nearly half (49%) of drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving.
  • Nearly 35% of drivers have sent a text or email while driving. 
  • Approximately 58% of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, while 78 percent believe that texting is a significant danger. 
Chicago, Illinois Bicycle Attorneys

Keating Law Offices' trial attorney Mike Keating has been a tireless advocate for cyclists' rights in Illinois. Mike is the author of "Dennis' Law" and worked with the Jurs family and legislators to pass the landmark law that solidified bicyclist's rights in Illinois. Mike also serves as a Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association where he is a also a member of the Board of Governors. Nationally he is the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Committee for the American Association for Justice, the nation's largest trial attorney organization fighting for the rights of the injured.