State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) told reporters last Friday that “there’s no question it’s a distraction from driving.”
“There’s not a big difference between whether you’re holding a phone or whether you’re not holding a phone,” Cullerton continued. “It’s the distraction in talking to someone that’s not in the car with you. It’s not what’s in your hand, it’s what’s in your head.”
Cullerton’s comments echo the concerns of the National Transportation Safety Board which, last month, recommended that states move to ban both hands-free and hand-held cell phone use while driving.
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 law that prohibits texting and cell phone use by commercial motor vehicle drivers.
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.
“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.”