In 2013, several new measures will govern the conduct of Illinois drivers. The new laws include enhanced efforts to combat distracted driving which has been referred to as a "national epidemic" by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The laws govern a range of behaviors that have been connected to deadly driving incidents.
In addition to the distracted driving laws, Julie's Law will go into effect. Julie's Law enhances the penalties for drivers caught going more than 25 miles per hour over the speed limit on an urban road or 31 miles per hour over on the highway. It bans judges from ordering supervision only in these situations. The law is named after a woman who was killed by a driver going 36 miles over the speed limit, despite the fact that he had 7 court-ordered supervisions on his record at the time of the incident.
The three distracted driving provisions all pertain to cell phone use. One bill bans the use of a cell phone in a work zone. Current law bans the use of cell phones in work zones that have speed limit reductions. A second provision makes it illegal to use a cell phone within 500 feet of an emergency scene. This provision is meant to combat the common, and highly dangerous, practice of people taking pictures of accident scenes as they drive by. Finally, a third measure forbids commercial motor vehicle operators from using a hand-held mobile telephone or texting while driving.
Illinois drivers should be aware of the new restrictions to avoid unknowingly breaking the law as of January 1.
Source: Tri States Public Radio, "New Laws on Distracted Driving," by Jason Parrott, 22 July 2012