2 laws aim to curb distracted driving

December 15, 2009 4:38:18 AM PST
A new law aimed at reducing the number of distracted motorists on Illinois roads will ban texting while driving. A second law makes it illegal to talk on a hand-held cell phone while driving through a highway construction zone or a school zone. Gloria Wilhelm has become an advocate for Illinois' new law, which will ban texting while driving. She'll be featured on IDOT's public service announcements- and her role is bittersweet. Her son, Matt, was killed by a distracted driver who was downloading ring tones on her cell phone.

"It only takes a second to create an eternal heartbreak like our family is experiencing, and after you kill someone, it's too late to look into a mother's eyes and say, I'm sorry I killed your son or daughter, I didn't realize what I was doing was so dangerous," said Wilhelm.

Two new laws in Illinois are a direct result of the Wilhelm family's crusade against distracted driving from cell phones.

"As of January 1, you will no longer be able to text and drive at the same time," said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

"This law prohibits the use of text messaging, email or any other electronic device to compose, read or send electronic messages or access internet sites while driving," said Captain Dave Nanninga, Illinois State Police Dist. Chicago.

Last year, nearly 6,000 people died on American roads as a result of distracted driving.

"A lot of times when people are texting, they're not texting with the phone down by their side, a lot of times it will be up in a position where they're trying to drive at the same time," said Captain Dave Nanninga, ISP District Chicago.

"I think it's a great idea, I actually was hit on the rear bumper by someone who had been texting while driving, got out of the car completely unapologetic, he was like, 'Oh I was just texting, what do you want from me!'" said Julie DeJong, Chicago area driver.

"When you're not aware of what you're doing, you're not focused on driving, your mind is somewhere else, they almost hit us every day with that!" said Fred Stone, bike messenger.

The fine for texting while driving is $75 to $150. It is considered a moving violation.


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