If you’ve never pulled out your cell phone to read a text while driving, thank you. If you have never seen another driver do it, you are lucky. Hopefully, you are never impacted by a distracted driver. However, distracted driving is a growing hazard, with the number of crashes due to drivers taking their eyes off the road growing every year. For example, studies estimate that a driver reading a text message can take their eyes off of the road for approximately 5 seconds on average.
Coogan Gallagher PC represents victims of car crashes. As car accident lawyers investigating the cause of a crash, we always consider whether or not distracted driving contributed to the cause. We represent victims who have been injured by distracted drivers. That is why we favor the passage of a new law that has been proposed in Illinois, as an amendment to the penalties for driving while using an “electronic communication device.”
The National Highway Transportation Safety Authority estimated that over three thousand Americans were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. (Credit to WSIU–Illinois Public Radio). That is a small number compared to the overall number of victims of driving while using a cell phone, texting, not using hands-free devices, or other handheld computer devices while operating a motor vehicle. The NHTSA estimates that nearly four-hundred-thousand people suffered non-fatal injuries that same year due to distracted driving. (Credit to the NHTSA).
Presently, the law is before the Illinois General Assembly, and will be discussed in a House Transportation Committee hearing on May 1, 2018. The law will change the penalties faced by someone who uses an electronic communication devices from a ticketed fine to a moving violation. This change means that the penalty for drivers who violate the law will be more serious. It will give police broader powers to enforce the law. And it will lead to more consistent enforcement of the restrictions against the use of electronic devices while driving.
One of the challenges we face, as car accident attorneys, is that the use of a device may not be recorded by the investigating officer. Following a crash, if using such a device is a moving violation, it should be more carefully documented in the traffic crash report and information about a collision that causes injury. This will strengthen the case and our ability to prove that the driver who caused the crash was legally at fault, and empower us more fully to seek justice.
At Coogan Gallagher, we are in favor of strenthening 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2.